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There Will Never Be Another Tiger Woods

By: | Mon 11 Apr 2022

AND so the question for golf is a simple enough one: what on earth happens when Tiger Woods hangs up his golf clubs for good? 

Just when you think that this extraordinary athlete cannot surprise you again he did precisely that with his announcement that he intended to play in The Masters last week. And, as is the way of things with Woods, he immediately became the only story in town.

His fellow professionals queued up to tell the world’s media how thrilled they were to have him back - and they know what side their bread is buttered on. 

Make no mistake - none of them thought that Woods had a prayer of winning his 16th major title but they all knew that his return would take the pressure off them and that every single patron would only be interested in attempting to get a glimpse of the great man as he completed his latest remarkable comeback.

As Jon Rahm said, Tiger’s return means that he has surely tied up the Player Impact Programme for another season. And he did so before he had even struck a shot in anger.

But there’s the thing. Woods is 46 years old. He was attempting to become the oldest Masters champion since Jack Nicklaus’ remarkable victory in 1986. 

Being the determined, cussed individual that he is, it would be foolish to write him off. He may never win another major, although you wouldn’t bet against him, but it is quite likely that somewhere down the line he will win another PGA Tour title.

However, you can be sure that Woods will not be playing on the Champions Tour, which means that on the day he wakens up and realises that he is no longer competitive we are unlikely ever to see him on a golf course again. This is not a man who would ever turn up to make up the numbers.

His impact on the game has been immeasurable. He made golf sexy. He made golf a cool sport. 

But when he walks away, who on earth is going to fill the void?

As a black athlete, Woods has been a role model to millions of men, women and children who would not otherwise have shown the slightest interest in golf. Is there anybody in the game who can pick up the baton?

In his pomp, Woods won majors and PGA Tour events for fun, producing shots that left us all shaking our heads in disbelief. 

Do you think that there is anybody currently playing the game who can come anywhere close?

For a time it seemed that Rory McIlroy might be the man to do it, but the most recent of his four major victories came eight years ago. Although if he could more regularly produce the sort of thrilling play we saw in the final round at Augusta then who knows?

Brooks Koepka has four majors to his name, but can you ever imagine him capturing the public’s imagination in the way that Woods has? Jon Rahm? An exciting talent for sure, and a man who is destined to win several majors, but not somebody who is going to attract a new audience.

Justin Thomas? Sam Burns? Xander Schauffele? Viktor Hovland? Collin Morikawa? Patrick Cantlay? Jordan Spieth? Cameron Smith? Each and every one of those individuals is a world-class golfer, but none are likely to move the needle.

Even Scottie Scheffler, the new Masters champion who is playing some sensational golf right now, is unlikely to capture people’s imagination in the way that Woods has.

Whisper it, but the only current player who could succeed Tiger Woods as a cult figure is Bryson DeChambeau

I know there are many of you who will believe that I have lost the plot with that statement, but his obsession with distance has captured the imagination of golf fans all around the globe. And, let’s face it, he is a fruit cake, a true eccentric who has always does things his own way, and will continue to do so.

But he is never going to come close to Tiger’s tally of majors. And the harsh truth is that just as many people turn up to watch DeChambeau fall flat on his face as will be there to cheer him on.

He missed the cut at Augusta by a country mile. And this on a golf course he said he regards as a par 67 - the sort of statement that Woods would never make.

So the bottom line is that we should cherish Woods will we still have him, and look on in wonder as he continues to defy the odds and the pain. He is a one-off.

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