Ya gotta wonder when Tiger Woods will start introducing himself as Eldrick.
After all, it's starting to look highly doubtful that he'll mount a serious comeback and return to any semblance of the ultimate dominator he used to be on the PGA TOUR. These days, he's less of a Tiger and more like that graceful but aging house cat that saunters slowly around the house when he used to leap aggressively and effortlessly up onto the couch.
There are lots of reasons why Tiger won't be Tiger again. Here are the Guru's top 5:
1. Multiple Back Surgeries--Uh, you kinda need a good back to play golf. Tiger has undergone four back surgeries and, realistically, he just can't swing with the same force and balance. Add to that a series of knee injuries and Tiger has a body that resembles an 80-year old, not a forty-something. Fact is, Woods might be able to go out and shoot an occasional round in the 60s, but, I just don't see him doing it four days in row in competition against young guys who have no back problems and the flexibility of yoga instructors.
2. Young Guns are Too Darn Good--Dustin, Jordan, Rory, Justin and Rickie are just a few of the phenomenal players on Tour these days. Others Tiger would have to beat are long bombers like Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. These guys all grew up watching and emulating Tiger and there's just no way he can stay with them for four days in a Major or any other tournament.
3. Training Time is Limited--Because of his questionable back, balky knee, family and business obligations, Woods can only put in a fraction of the work he used to when he was No. 1 in the world. Nowadays, he has to be cautious and limit his time so another injury doesn't crop up. While he understandably has cut back on practice time, other pros are hitting thousands of balls and grinding on the putting green.
4. He Doesn't Have Harmon, Haney or Williams--Let's face it, Tiger had the majority of his success when he was coached by Butch Harmon and Hank Haney and Steve Williams was on the bag. All three are not in Tiger's life these days and it doesn't look like he'll have a reunion with any of them.
5. His Off-The-Course Life is Expanding--It'll be interesting to see how Tiger does in his post-competition phase. Fellow icons like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman achieved amazing success after their PGA TOUR careers. Under his "TGR" brand, Woods is seemingly looking to follow a similar path. His golf design firm has several projects in development around the world and his sports bar/restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, in Jupiter, Florida is doing well. He also has plans for several new business projects under the brand.
Rest assured, Tiger Woods won't just fade into obscurity. The media and public were enamored with his meteoric success on the course and just as fascinated with his missteps and foibles away from the fairways. He means way too many clicks to the media and, to be honest, Americans can't get enough of celebrities who stumble and fall.
Let's hope there are no more back surgeries and mug shots in Tiger's future. Golf needs him whether he wins another tournament or not. You don't just cast a 14-time Major winner aside, either.
Woods-- love him or hate him-- is too much a part of modern golf history to just casually disregard as a broken down golfer who'll never again approach his amazing wizardry on the links.