We’ll never see the likes of him again.
The sports world has already done a great deal of mourning in 2015. Ernie Banks, Charlie Sifford, Billy Casper, Stuart Scott, Jerry Tarkanian and Allie Sherman have, sadly, all shuffled off this mortal coil.
We must also pay our last respects to Tiger Woods. Not the man, of course, but the Tiger who occupied the No. 1 World Ranking for a record 683 weeks:
…the Tiger who was a shoo-in to obliterate Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major victories
…the Tiger who played the game with an aggressive skill and confidence unlike any we'd ever seen
…the Tiger whose transcendent game would usher in a new ethnically diverse generation of golfers
…the Tiger who divided PGA Tour events into major and minor league affairs by his selective participation
…the same Tiger that hogged the coverage during PGA Tour events no matter his position on the leaderboard.
May that Tiger rest in peace.
He still gets airtime, of course. After the Farmers Insurance Open, more commentators were talking about the bad back that forced him to withdraw than they were about Jason Day’s win in a four-man playoff.
And the 82 Tiger threw up to miss the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open? He looked like a husk of his former self.
Years of torqueing his body with aggressive swings have worn out his knees and back. His short game has abandoned him. This has caused the strongest part of his game—his confidence—to suffer.
It’s painful to watch a once-mighty gladiator limp off the course, making excuses about his glutes not activating. After all the snickering about his sexual peccadilloes, now he’s literally the butt of more jokes.
But even if he does win another major, he won’t be the same otherworldly golfer he was back during his days of dominance. Those days are gone. Another group of “golf athletes” who modeled their hard-bodied games on Tiger’s, have roared past him.
Once he rehabs his back and knees and glutes, and once he retools his swing for his 39-year-old body, I sincerely hope the old Tiger pulls another Lazarus, like he did in 2013, when he again rose to the top of the World Rankings for 60 weeks.
But he’s already a different golfer than he once was. We shan’t see the likes of him again.
Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com. Jon Rizzi is the founding editor and co-owner of this regional golf-related media company producing magazines, web content, tournaments, events and the Golf Passport.