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The Party is Surely Over For Tiger Woods

By: | Mon 10 Apr 2023

In his View From The Fairway column, Derek Clements addresses the Masters withdrawal of Tiger Woods and explains why the legendary golfer's major career may soon (sadly) be over.

TIGER WOODS has never turned up at a tournament he did not believe he could win. The one exception might have been last year’s 150th Open Championship at St Andrews, because it entered his head that he might never again have the opportunity to play the Old Course. As we all know, the 15-time major champion missed the cut at the home of golf.

He may be the bravest golfer I have ever seen. With next to no competitive play under his belt he somehow made the cut at the 2023 Masters. It was an astonishing achievement. But he was in obvious pain from the moment he teed off on Thursday. This is a man who nearly lost his leg in a car crash two years ago. That he is able to play at all is something akin to a miracle.

Watching past champions struggling at majors is a sad sight. Nobody wants to remember the greats of the game, unable to break 80. The likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and even Jack Nicklaus carried on playing when they knew they had no chance of winning. Woods is not built that way.

And the harsh reality is that the time may have come for this incredible athlete to call it a day. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he won at Augusta in 2019 but the reality is that it was his last hurrah.

His battered body is now telling him he cannot do it anymore. Even the greatest athletes eventually have to face the reality that they are flesh and blood too. It seems that time has arrived for Woods.

He is one of the most stubborn sportsmen around and the mind that willed him to so many improbable triumphs will be urging him to go on and prove the doubters wrong again but major championship golf has become a torture he no longer needs to endure.

Woods has been a serial winner throughout his career and desperately wanted to beat the PGA Tour record for victories he currently shares with Sam Snead but his last three major appearances have seen two withdrawals, with a missed cut at St Andrews sandwiched in between.

That emotional walk down the 18th at St Andrews last year with an ovation for the ages and Rory McIlroy stopping to doff his cap on the first fairway should perhaps have been the full stop.

The fight he showed to make his 23rd successive cut was typical of him as a competitor but the harsh reality is that - in admittedly brutal conditions on Saturday - he was unable to walk more than 43 holes.

The short message he put out on social media yesterday to announce his withdrawal referenced an injury to his right foot - the one he could have lost in the car crash he suffered just over two years ago.

But the damage he suffered in that early morning one-car incident changed the game for Woods - as well as his life.

He is 47 - Phil Mickelson was three years older than that when he won the US PGA Championship - but with his back and knee surgeries and now this on top, Woods is a wreck.

His caddie Joe LaCava described his physical condition as “pretty banged-up” ahead of the Masters and by the third round he was shuffling around like a care-home veteran.

If that bedraggled, rain-soaked figure is the last view of Woods at a major championship, it will be a sad final image.

Remember that this was the man whose example transformed golf from a wobbly-waistline walk into an athletic pursuit but is now so reduced by his physical limitations.

He has brought so much to his sport through the years. Notoriety, too, for his misdemeanours off the course but a magnetism on it that elevated the game and expanded its boundaries.

Augusta was where it all began in 1997 with his 12-shot procession and perhaps it is fitting that it should be here that it ends.

The circumstances are not what he would have wanted but not even Woods gets to write his own farewell script. He has been written off many times before. Perhaps he will come back and defy the odds one more time. But it seems highly unlikely.

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Tags: tiger woods PGA Tour FedEx Cup

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