Tiger Returns: What Did We Learn?
There is a lot that we can learn from the latest return of one of the most recognized names in professional golf. Tiger Woods kicked off his comeback campaign last week at the 2014 Hero World Challenge in Windermere, Florida. The four-round event – held at Isleworth Golf & Country Club – marked the first time that Tiger had played since the PGA Championship.
And while the excitement from fans and commentators was well deserved, Tiger’s performance over the weekend wasn’t exactly spectacular. In fact, the Big Cat finished in dead last at his own tournament (sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation), turning this Nike Golf spokesperson into the only golfer to ever come in last place at a PGA Tour event while remaining upbeat and positive about the finish.
Although it wasn’t the epic comeback story that high-budget Hollywood films are made of, there were still a lot of reasons for all of us to get excited about Tiger’s return to the golf course. So what have we learned from Tiger’s latest comeback attempt?
No One Is Invincible
If there is one thing that we can take away from Tiger’s health problems, it’s that anybody can be sidelined by injuries. Once upon a time, he seemed to be the epitome of physical fitness on the golf course for years, taking home scores of titles while overcoming ailments and injuries throughout his professional career.
Seventy-nine PGA Tour events, fourteen majors victories, with his first major won at the tender age of 21… one could easily see how the 38-year-old golf pro seemed destined to bust right through Jack Nicklaus’ long-held record of 18 majors. And he accomplished all of this in between surgeries that – beginning as far back as 2002 – were intended to relieve swelling, ACL issues, cartilage damage that affected his left knee, and neck problems.
Unfortunately, these types of injuries have a tendency to become major issues as golfers move into their thirties – especially for injury-prone golfers that are pushing forty. Regardless of Tiger’s impeccable drive, outstanding work ethic and a competitive spirit that rivals the greats, there’s no working through certain injuries, and Tiger’s back proved to be his latest undoing.
After a series of lower back issues that occasionally forced Woods to put away his clubs in early 2014, Woods’ camp finally pulled the plug on his comeback attempt when in April of 2014 it was announced that Woods wouldn’t be making it to the Masters. This marked the first time that Tiger Woods had missed the esteemed tournament in his professional career.
Comebacks Still Happen
After watching Tiger’s back-and-forth ritual of golf course to operating room and back again for the last decade, it’s easy to assume that the trend will only escalate as time goes on.
On the surface, it may seem like all of the determination in the world can’t keep the Big Cat away from the injuries, surgeries and chronic pain that have put a damper on his professional career at a time where he needs a solid comeback.
However, time and again Tiger is stricken with an injury or ailment, he evaluates what he needs to do to get back on the course, follows through with his rehab and physical therapy, and gets right back to work. It’s almost as if he thrives on the challenges that playing with these issues present. Even looking back at his performance at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods was reportedly sick with flu-like symptoms during the entire tournament.
And even that couldn’t keep him away from the course. We’d like to hope that eventually these ailments are going to give up on Tiger altogether, allowing him to compete at an optimal level once again.
Tiger has certainly taught us that you can’t keep a good golfer down. If he can avoid the sidelines through 2015, I think we’ll be in for quite a show as he puts his new Nike golf clubs and balls to good use.