Monday 19 February 2018

Woods' psyche followed his physique in falling apart

Tiger Woods has said he does not know if or when he will return to golf
Tiger Woods has said he does not know if or when he will return to golf

James Corrigan

There is an over-whelming sense that Tiger Woods is done and even if you refuse to accept it, then it is surely impossible to dispute that Tiger Woods is done with being Tiger Woods.

A 30-minute press conference on Tuesday all but confirmed it.

Nobody expected this from Woods, nobody anticipated anything other than his usual defiance. No, this was not a definitive resignation speech, but there was definitely resignation in his speech. And we had never heard that before.

Woods was often ridiculed for limping into media centres, clutching a form-sheet as wretched as his medical notes, and insisting he was there "to win", while vehemently denying anything whatsoever had changed in his outlook. It was the only certainty that was left with Tiger, the red-shirted one who was always such a certainty on those Sunday afternoons.


Well, hey, the physique was in tatters but at least the psyche was still intact.

Yet now it has followed his frame and begun to fall apart. When the question came, Woods not only veered off the script of the past six years, he yanked at the steering wheel and sent his career inexorably up that road to retirement.

"There is nothing really I can look forward to," Woods said, his clear discomfort as much to do with the admission as much as his aching back.

As journalists sat there agog, Woods flew into obit orbit, that rarefied atmosphere he had steadfastly refused to visit before; at least not in public. He all but conceded his immortal match with Jack Nicklaus.

"I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy," he said. "I'm still shy of Jack's record (of 18 Majors to Woods' 14) but in my 20 years out here, I think I've achieved a lot.

"I'm hoping I can get back out there and compete against these guys. But if that's not the case, I'll find other avenues; growing my foundation, course design and other projects."

At least he will then be able to take leave from his PlayStation. Woods' confession that he spends his days playing computer games was sad enough.

But then to go further and reveal that he mutes the volume so those he is playing against cannot hear who he is drove the scenario way beyond pitiful. To think, the most recognisable sportsman of this generation is now trying to be the most anonymous.

What makes it worse is that just two years ago - before the trio of surgeries which have reduced him to spinal servitude - he won five of the PGA Tour's biggest events and was crowned player of the year. Furthermore, his is a pursuit in which the professionals can win Majors long beyond the 40 mark.

Be sure, golf is taunting him, saying: "Come on, Vijay did it, so did Phil and Ernie." Except, Woods is not like them, neither in body or celebrity.

Woods turns 40 at the end of the month, but will be a very old 40 having undergone multiple operations on his knees as well as his back. Just to launch another comeback will be a huge ask but after that the demands will become truly absurd.

There will be no chance of gentle progression in the shadows and from the outset he will be compared to the Jordan Spieths and Rory McIlroys.

Following the press conference, McIlroy said on social media that "golf without Tiger doesn't bear thinking about". However, for Tiger it will be him without golf. And now he has started thinking about it, the reality will inevitably follow. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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