He will be missed.
On Friday night, Tiger Woods made the announcement that he will miss the Masters this week. In his statement, he said he is not ‘physically ready’ to compete in the first major tournament of the season and there is still ‘no timetable to return to competitive golf.’ He has not won a major since the US Open in 2008 and is recovering from yet another back surgery, his third. He is now 40 years old and the sport that he revolutionized misses him.
Woods is stuck on 14 major victories and 79 PGA Tour wins over the course of his remarkable career, but it was supposed to be better. By this stage of his career, many smart analysts would have bet a lot of money on Woods passing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories. We know what transpired in the past, the infidelity, public divorce and embarrassment, physical breakdowns and mental meltdowns. We do not need to rehash everything that happened for this very column. It is what it is and we all witnessed his public shaming.
We all witnessed it, each and every moment, and stood in shock and awe as one of the biggest athletes this planet has ever seen had their personal lives spread across every newspaper in this country for us all to read. I remember the excitement I felt when you turned pro with the simple phrase, “Hello World” in August of 1996. You changed the game. You changed the way it was played, who played it and how those who played it took care of themselves. You are the greatest golfer that I have ever seen and will probably ever see in my lifetime.
I used to think the sport is in good hands moving forward and in a certain way, it is. Certainly, players like Jason Day and Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are brilliant in their own right, they are just not Tiger.
I miss the excitement of what was next. I miss the great putt and the nervous anticipation and the loud cheers that reached peaks when you knew Tiger was on the prowl. I even miss the stare downs when someone would take a picture during his back swing. I know he cursed and he got angry and was not always the best sport, but I miss all of that too.
I miss when his former caddie Steve Williams would get into it with spectators. I miss the fist pump after a made putt. I miss the ‘Sunday Red.’ I miss the debate if you would rather take ‘Tiger Woods’ or ‘the field’ in a respective tournament or major.
I miss when you would read about Augusta National and other courses Tiger-proofing their courses because of your physical domination and the way you were able to drive the golf ball. When there is talk of Azaleas and Amen Corner, there will be no talk of Tiger this week at Augusta.
You have not won The Masters since 2005, so it has been quite some time this famous course has heard the Tiger roars. I hope one time we get that again, but not this week, not this year.
Maybe next year and for golf fans that is what we have been left with, a lot of maybes. At one time there was certainty with Woods, now nothing is certain. When Augusta ushers in spring this week, the excitement for the tournament remains, but the excitement that Woods created will be missed.