Health is a wonderful thing. It is a blessing we should never take for granted, and if you have it, be certain to give thanks.
The world’s number-one golfer, Tiger Woods, is again battling to regain his standard of excellence. Over his incredible career he has had to overcome several injuries from knee surgery to leg and ankle and Achilles tendon problems. For the first time the dreaded back injury that golf announcers use as excuses for so many of their pro buddies’ play when they hit bad shots has now found its way to Woods.
We are midway through March, and Tiger has not played well; he does not look like the record book of golf. This off season, Tiger did his share of skiing and apparently tweaked his back. His standard of consistency has not been there so far in 2014 going into this past weekend as defending champion of the WGC Cadillac Championships at the newly re-modeled Doral, the famed Blue Monster.
Two weeks ago on Saturday at the Honda Classic, Woods shot a 65 and vaulted up the leader board into contention for Sunday. However, he could not finish his round as his injured back flared up in a state of spasms and he was forced to stop after playing just 13 holes. He could not finish his round as the pain and spasms would not allow him to keep playing and swinging the club.
After a few days of around-the-clock treatments and no practice rounds, Woods played Thursday and struggled to a 76. Round two on Friday had to be patched together to complete round one because of bad weather delays, storms and rain in South Florida. Tiger shot a 73, still not close to his standard.
Then Saturday he again lit up Doral with eight birdies and a six-under 66, the lowest round of the tournament. It looked like his health was improving enough to allow him to swing the clubs pain free.
Sunday, dressed in his traditional red, he looked like Tiger but again tweaked his sore back on the sixth hole trying to hit an awkward shot from a sand bunker. Unlike the Honda Classic the weekend before when he was forced to withdraw, this time Tiger was able to finish his round, but he was hardly the Tiger we are accustomed to.
He started the day just three shots off the lead in the next-to-last group. His score blew up on the tough Doral course to a 78 — that’s six over par.
The Masters, the first Major of the year, is just five weeks away, and Woods will now seek back treatment. You simply can’t play golf with an ailing back — the thrust of torque and power required with each swing won’t allow it.
Tiger has 14 Major championships, and his career pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s 18 is very much in jeopardy. He has not won a Major now since the 2008 United States Open. Even though he is a four-time Masters champion, he has not won at Augusta in 10 years.
Somebody said if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be duck. In Tiger’s case, he looks like Tiger and walks like Tiger, but he is not playing like Tiger. Ranked 289th on the official PGA Money list after the Honda Classic last week, he moved up to 193rd after finishing in a tie for 25th at the WGC Cadillac Championship, where he has won seven times.
So Tiger Woods fans, keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer for the world’s number-one player to regain his health so he can continue his assault on the record books of golf.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.