What happened to Tiger Woods? How did Woods go from the most dominant golfer the world had ever seen to a guy who, after countless injuries and multiple surgeries, become a shell of his former self? And so quickly?
Those are questions that Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine writer Alan Shipnuck tried to answer.
“The goal of this article was to lay it all out from the time Tiger was a kid until up to the minute and sort of let (readers) draw their own conclusions,” Shipnuck said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s not a question that has a simple answer. So many things are happening simultaneously. Every different factor is affecting the other one. It’s been this perfect storm of injuries, scandal, divorce, age, but those are the things we sort of know. But there’s also been an element of apathy. I think Tiger has come to a point in his life and career where he’s satisfied with what he’s done. He doesn’t really want to climb up that mountain one more time – or even try. He’s earned that right. He did it better than anyone’s ever done it for a very long time. It always had to end at some point. It couldn’t go on forever. I just think the end came a little more swiftly and in a way none of us could have ever imagined. But I think we’ve reached that point. It’s time to maybe not pine for more Tiger, but appreciate what we had and move on collectively.”
Woods, 40, has not won a major since 2008 and doesn’t figure to win another.
“If he were to win a major, it would be the greatest accomplishment of his career by a magnitude of about 100 – even more than winning the U.S. Open with a broken leg,” Shipnuck said. “Tiger is so far gone in so many ways. I could see him coming back in a ceremonial capacity and playing here or there. But even before the back surgeries and this long layoff he’s enduring right now, his game deteriorated so much.”
Woods was player of the year in 2013, when he won five tournaments. Even then, however, his decline was apparent.
“Tiger was basically eight shots worse per tournament from 2013 to 2009, and 2009 is not even one of his seven or eight best seasons,” Shipnuck said. “His driving wasn’t accurate, he wasn’t nearly a long as he had been, his short game had deteriorated – he’s just not the same player he was. And now you factor in all the injuries and the scar tissue he has, he’s just gotten older and more brittle. It’s hard to imagine he could ever get back to where he was in 2013, which was not even close to what he was in 2009, which wasn’t as good as 2006, which was miles from 2000. Tiger is just a lesser player any way you look at it.”
Woods, it seems, knows that.
“I think this time away from the game, he may really be thinking about this is the right time to walk away,” Shipnuck said. “What do I have left to play for? What do I have left to prove? And do I really want to go out there and suffer the humiliation of shooting an 85 at the Memorial like he did last year or having to withdraw from San Diego because he literally couldn’t chip the ball on the green? I think for Tiger, this is a time for reflection – and he may decide that there’s nothing left to play for.”