Tiger speaks about the future

Tiger Woods

Tiger speaks about the future
December 08
14:22 2021

Tiger Woods recently spoke about his future in golf and the hardships that he had to endure following the car crash he was in this past February. If this is the end of Woods competing at a championship level, it is truly the end of an era.

“I’m lucky to be alive and also have a limb,” Woods said in a news conference held in the Bahamas.

The tragic accident happened to Woods in Southern California and he didn’t answer any specific questions pertaining to the crash. He was in the hospital for three weeks and suffered significant injuries to his right leg and was in danger of having it amputated.

“This one’s been much more difficult,” he said about the multiple returns from injury he has endured in his career. “The knee stuff was one thing, that’s one level. Then the back. With this right leg … it’s hard to explain how difficult it is. Being immobile for three months, just to lay there. I was just looking forward to getting outside. That was a goal of mine. Especially for a person who lived his entire life outside, that was a goal.

“I transitioned from a wheelchair to crutches and now nothing. It’s been a lot of hard work.”

Woods was like the Michael Jordan of golf. During his prime, he was one of the biggest attractions in sports and like Jordan, he seemed unbeatable once he reached his peak greatness. It was hard hearing him talk about possibly not getting anywhere close to that level of greatness ever again.

“As far as playing at the tour level, I don’t know when that’s going to happen,” he said. “Now I’ll play a round here or there, a little hit and giggle, I can do something like that. The USGA suggested Play It Forward [the tees]. I really like that idea now. I don’t like the tees on the back. I like Play It Forward. Come on, let’s move it up, let’s move it up.

“To see some of my shots fall out of the sky a lot shorter than they used to is a little eye-opening, but at least I’m able to do it again. That’s something that for a while there it didn’t look like I was going to.”

When he was in his prime, I was one of the people that was 100% sure that Woods was going to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships. I didn’t factor in the injuries and the personal trauma that Woods has been through over the last decade.  

If this is the end of competitive golf for Woods, he will go down as the best golfer in the history of the game for most people. He has 82 tour victories and 15 major championships with his last coming at the 2019 Masters Tournament. His last major may have been his greatest win of them all, because it was the most unexpected.

“I got that last major, and I ticked off two more events along the way,” he said. “I don’t foresee this leg ever being what it used to be, hence I’ll never have it back to what it used to be and the clock’s ticking. I’m getting older, I’m not getting any younger. All that combined means a full schedule and a full practice schedule and the recovery that would take to do that … no, I don’t have any desire to do that.

“But to ramp it up for a few events a year and, as I alluded to what Mr. [Ben] Hogan did, and he did a pretty good job of it, and there’s no reason that I can’t do that and feel ready. I may not be tournament-sharp in a sense that I haven’t played tournaments, but I think if you practice correctly and you do it correctly, that I’ve come off surgeries before. So I know the recipe for it, I’ve just got to get to a point where I feel comfortable enough where I can do that again.”

Woods was the reason a lot of Black men and women became interested in the sport of golf. Whether it was watching his tournaments on television, or actually playing a round, Black people around the globe rallied to support Woods as he continued to climb the ladder of the sport.

I remember being a young teenage kid watching him play tournaments and thinking to myself that it was great to see someone who looked like me playing a sport that was majority white. Watching him rise to the top of the sport led me to ask my parents for golf lessons, because the game seemed fun and it was.

I’m sure that I was just one of the millions of kids who were inspired by Woods. It’s unfortunate that we have not seen another Black man or woman rise through the ranks of the sport and compete as one of the best in the sport. After 25 years, I figured that we would have had one by now.  

Around the same time Woods was becoming dominant, the Williams’ sisters were coming up in the world of women’s tennis. Together they dominated women’s tennis for nearly two decades and we have seen the effects of that with the emergence of players like Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka.

The same has not happened in the world of golf, but who knows, the next Tiger Woods could be on his way up the rankings as we speak. In any case, not seeing Woods at his peak is like watching Jordan with the Wizards, or Ali against Larry Holmes, or Deion Sanders as a Washington Redskin.  

Woods’ greatness will never be forgotten, but one has to wonder how many majors he would have won had it not been for those injuries he suffered during his 30s. He has not said when a return to the tour would happen, or if it would happen at all, but he said conversations with his family about a limited return have taken place.

“Am I going to put my family through it again, am I going to put myself out there again? We had a talk within the family, all of us sat down and said, if this leg cooperates and I get to a point where I can play the tour, is it OK with you guys if I try and do it?” Woods said. “The consensus was yes.

“Now internally, I haven’t reached that point. I haven’t proven it to myself that I can do it. I can show up here and I can host an event. I can play a par-3 course. I can hit a few shots. I can chip and putt. But we’re talking about going out there and playing against the world’s best on the most difficult golf courses under the most difficult conditions. I’m so far from that.

“I have a long way to go to get to that point. I haven’t decided whether or not I want to get to that point. I’ve got to get my leg to a point where that decision can be made. And we’ll see what happens when I get to that point, but I’ve got a long way to go with this leg.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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