Tiger Woods’ schedule might look light, leaving fans to wonder if it’s a result of recent health setbacks — or a preview of life after Tiger for the sport.
Will this slowdown in play result in his retirement? Fellow golfer Colin Montgomerie asserted that Woods should have called it quits last summer. Montgomerie’s comments came at the British Open, as Woods played in his final event at St. Andrews.
Imagine photographs of Woods traversing the iconic Swilcan Bridge there one last time.
It’s impossible to downplay the impact Woods, 47, has had on the game and on sports. Some onlookers wouldn’t lose sleep, given the negative stories he’s been part of. But Montgomerie, 59, a Brit who has seen his share of accolades, didn’t seem to wish good riddance to the American star.
He just saw the opportunity to leave on one’s own terms.
“Why go on?” Montgomerie asked, on the Bunkered Podcast. “Go out at the top. It’s something very few can do.”
That Woods competed at all wasn’t lost on Montgomerie. Or anyone familiar with Woods’ recent trials. It’s been a year since a traffic accident almost cost Woods a leg.
On the course, Woods had un-Woods-like rounds at Augusta National. Then, a rough go at the PGA Championship, with 10 bogeys in two rounds. A British Open goodbye would have been graceful.
But coming out of the game in a quiet way doesn’t seem to fit the script for Tiger Woods, who transformed the sport in his attention-grabbing and record-breaking career.
So he keeps moving when he can.
In December, he couldn’t walk 18 holes every day at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and withdrew. The culprit: plantar fasciitis. He’ll have a few weeks to recover before the Genesis Invitational in February. He’ll need it — it can take six months to a year to recover from such an injury.
Even less than 100%, Woods is a draw. Remember The Match VII? Youngsters Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth beat Woods and Rory McIlroy and celebrated widely on social media.
Woods was mic’d up for the event and delivered commentary critics considered ordinary. How will he do in a more ceremonial role than a competitive one?
It’s a valid question. Amid its riff with LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed effort that has placed players’ loyalty on the line, the sport is also undergoing a transformation as it relates to Woods, a game-changer and a polarizing figure himself. The man who wore red on Sunday and brought a killer instinct to Sundays, playing for fun?
Woods, who has pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour, did so with his son, Charlie, in the PNC Championship, when they tied for eighth. We’ll have to see it to believe it is the new Tiger Woods.
In late 2022, we saw some impressive swings and impressive speed for a 47-year-old with an injury history. In addition to this, he had many struggles compared to the total body of his work. Woods has thrived with more reps. So onlookers will wonder whether a limited PGA Tour schedule will give him enough time to embrace Tiger Mode as we know it.
Can Woods win another major? A player he’s often compared to, Phil Mickelson, won one at age 50. Lefty hasn’t had the physical distress Woods did, though.
It’s not the swings that are in question. It depends on whether the legend can walk the course with an injured leg that may never heal properly. And how he’ll respond if his game suffers as a result.
Tiger Woods’ 2023 schedule
Feb. 16-19: The Genesis Invitational
March 9-12: The Players Championship
April 6-9: The Masters
May 18-21: PGA Championship
June 15-18: U.S. Open
July 20-23: The Open Championship
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