(Originally written June 18, 2008)
Much is being written about the knee injury that Tiger Woods exacerbated at the U.S. Open, which has resulted in shutting it down for the balance of the 2008 season. Did he press his body too far? Will he be able to pick up where he left off? Will he have to change the swing that has resulted in 14 majors & 65 wins? For that matter, will he even be able to play golf at the highest level anymore?
A note to everyone - relax.
First off, we are talking about the most mentally disciplined athlete of our generation, if not of all time. We are also talking about an athlete that borders on the edge of obsession in his chase to catch and surpass Jack’s 18 majors. His season now ends just four shy of tying that mark. Thankfully.
Here is an athlete that nothing stops – not his so-called competitors, not juiced-up golf courses, not history. But now something has – temporarily. And it could not have come at a better time. At 32, we are in the smack middle of The Tiger Era. He has been on tour for twelve years now, and the injury bug has finally caught up on him. An injury that will force him – FORCE him – to hang it up for about six months. The longest period of time in his career.
Those of a ‘certain’ age will remember when movies in the theatre were so long that they would have an intermission – a period of time of about 15 minutes or so where patrons could stretch their legs, have a smoke or bathroom break whist the screen displayed dancing jujubees singing ‘Let’s go out to the lobby…’
This is Tiger’s intermission. And it had to happen lest burnout took its toll. It seems odd to consider a torn ACL and fractured tibia a blessing, but I think they are in this instance. Tiger has an adorable one-year-old daughter, a new home to be built on Jupiter Island, a knockout wife that I would imagine does not see enough of him, and a sweet yacht that is just dying to be filled up with $5 a gallon diesel fuel for a few laps around Bermuda. Tiger does not seem the type to stop and smell the roses, but he has the toys, the family…and now the TIME to do just that.
When the calendar turns to 2009 and the only physical ailment Tiger has to deal with is scar tissue, look out. A rested, restless and hungry Tiger will be ready to pick up right where he left off – sans limp & painful grimace. Do not think for a second that his swing will be affected by the surgery – he will not allow it. But even if it somehow does, well, that will just be swing change number 4 (I believe) he will perform in a career that by the time it is done will obliterate every meaningful record.
He goes into his forced intermission with 14 and 65 – majors and wins. Twelve years from now, at age 44, look for those numbers to be doubled. And a career with 28 majors and 130 wins is not only not too shabby, it is downright obscenely inhuman.
Just the way Tiger likes it. Enjoy the intermission.