Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The "I" Word

On December 11, 2009 Tiger Woods announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave from the PGA tour. Who knew that indefinite might last forever?

The imposter presenting himself as Tiger failed to win in 12 tournaments last year. Only twice in 2010 did he finish in the top 10. This year, 4 tournaments have only produced more of the same. On courses that in the past have been home to many victories, the numbers have been startling mediocre: tied for 24th, 44th, 20th and 10th. There was also a first round loss in the match play championship.

Of all the slings and arrows thrown at Woods since revelations of his serial infidelity first surfaced, a word that could cut him almost as deep as any other may be creeping into our lexicon: irrelevant.

The Masters, the first major of the year, will be upon us the second week of April. Prior to 2009, we might have been planning this event as a coronation of a new king. By 2008, Woods had garnered 14 victories in the majors and it seemed like the question was not if but when he would be surpassing the 18 wins of Nicklaus in the 4 most prestigious events on tour. But now it seems that Woods might be stuck on 14 forever.

Woods this week spoke of being very happy with his game on Sunday, when he shot 72 and finished far from victory. Is this the same man who used to win convincingly and announce his slight dissatisfaction for not bringing his A game? When do we stop waiting for Tiger to resurrect his game, and start coming to the realization that this might never happen?

If Tiger wants the "I" word to disappear, I would suggest that he choose the Masters as the forum where he decides to return to the PGA tour. Otherwise, we may soon start referring to him as the golfer formerly known as Tiger. "Now stepping up to the first tee, Eldrick Woods". It doesn't have the same panache.

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