When Tiger Woods officially dropped out of the 2014 Masters, the golf world was sent into hysteria, which is expected when a sport loses its biggest star right before its biggest competition.
For those who were worrying about Woods’ future, the thought process was that he will either come back from back surgery better than ever, or that his career is essentially over. Unfortunately for the PGA Tour, there is no doubt that the latter will ring true.
Any time an athlete has major back surgery, one should be worried; but when that athlete is 38 years of age, it’s a different story. This is especially true for Woods, as he has never toned down a swing so violent that it hurts most spectators. Combine this with injuries to his ACL, MCL, persistent back spasms, a bulging disk in his neck, right and left achilles injuries and a left elbow injury over the last six years, and it is easy to see that Tiger is a broken man.
In addition to being more susceptible to injury, Woods’ actual performance in driving the ball and putting on the greens will be hugely affected. Woods will always be one of the best prepared golfers in the world, but he will never again be the most physically imposing.
Also, it is obvious that with every passing major tournament, the rest of the field is continuing to gain more confidence playing against Woods. Once upon a time, it was a curse just to line up next to the star, but that simply isn’t so any longer. Keep in mind that even if he did play, there will have been 23 majors that have passed since he won the 2008 U.S. Open. If anything, Tiger is now the one who should be fearful of the best players in the world, not the other way around.
Whenever Woods does return to the golf course in a competitive fashion, it is nearly impossible to imagine him being the No. 1 golfer in the world ever again, as time is simply passing him by. That doesn’t mean that he will never win another tournament on the PGA Tour or another major, but no golfer will ever fear lining up next to Woods again, and there will never again be a tournament that pits Tiger vs. the field.