Once the world heard that the injuries Tiger Woods sustained in a car crash in February weren’t life-threatening, the speculation started, writes GARY LEMKE in the April issue of Compleat Golfer.
He had limb-saving surgery to his lower right leg, but he was soon transferred to a different centre of medical excellence to continue receiving treatment and to begin the rehabilitation process. It was then that people began to get ahead of themselves.
‘It was “only” his right leg. His stress as a golfer is absorbed by his left leg’
‘Will be be able to win another tournament?’ Will he add to his 15 Majors?
‘Ben Hogan was hit by a bus in 1949 and completed a great comeback to win. He won six Majors after the accident in which he nearly died.’
‘Tiger is a born fighter. He has come back from “these kind of things” before.’
The world seems to be waiting for, even expecting, another Tiger Woods miracle. ‘C’mon Tiger, just one more, show us you’re the greatest.’
It’s a world that is in denial. Tiger is 45 years old and we’re lucky to see him walk after five operations to his back over the years, the most recent of which was in January. Consider his list of surgeries: knee (2002, 2007 and 2008), back (2014, 2015 – twice – 2017 and 2021). He’s had Achilles problems, neck problems, elbow problems and pinched nerves. Now he’s had a car accident that has resulted in pins, screws, plates and whatever else an orthopaedic surgeon has at their disposal to put his mangled lower right leg and foot together.
And we’re talking about him coming back and winning at the highest level again. Instead, we should be just talking about him walking again.
The show is over folks, that’s it. You’ve had your fun to fill a lifetime of memories and anecdotes. Go home. Leave Tiger alone. He’s not coming back to win tournaments and any more Majors. The 2019 Masters was his final act of brilliance. Winning a fifth Green Jacket and adding to his Major tally after an 11-year drought. He’s done.
Now we can appreciate him for the golfing royalty he is. He is the Pied Piper of his generation, a golfer who changed the lines and fortunes of so many connected with the sport. He made more millionaires of professional golfers than even Nostradamus could have predicted. Had it not been for Tiger’s arrival over 20 years ago the pros might still be playing for a few cases of Coke, a couple of caps and maybe the use of a rented car and timeshare holidays.
Tiger changed the way golf was consumed; sponsors and television networks clambered over themselves monetising the interest in this phenomenal athlete. Tournament prize money went through the ceiling and now pros play for a million dollars a week. Journeymen pros are now comfortable dollar millionaires. All thanks to Tiger.
Yet, the world seems to be asking for and some are expecting just one more miracle. For Tiger to get back on his feet – they seem to forget about his back – and to close the show with another win, or two.
It’s not going to happen. He won’t go past Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record number of wins, but sharing it on 82 victories isn’t too bad, is it? Serena Williams might finish her career on 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one fewer than Margaret Court. That’s not too bad, is it? Tiger’s got 15 Majors, three fewer than Jack Nicklaus. But 15 Majors isn’t too bad, is it?
The show is over. Let’s celebrate and appreciate just how privileged we were to witness it. Thanks for everything, Tiger. You’re a legend. Now it’s time to concentrate on the important things in life – your health and your family.