There’s an old saying that goes, “sometimes the mind is willing, but the body isn’t able.” While this is most certainly paraphrasing an idiom that has been around in one form or another for ages, most people can still relate to the meaning – especially golfers that have tried to keep their game on point as the years roll on. In the world of professional golf, that statement has recently been personified by Tiger Woods.
The 14-time major winner issued a statement on February 11th declaring a brief leave of absence from professional golf to focus on his game. “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf,” Woods personally stated on his website. “I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”
The statement came after a tumultuous showing at recent PGA Tour events, beginning with his comeback campaign during the 2014 Hero World Challenge, a tournament sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation and supporting partners like Nike Golf and Oakley.
It was during this very tournament that Tiger placed dead last – not quite the comeback that we were all hoping for. Still, there was optimism that Tiger would get his groove back through sheer determination and willpower alone. Those hopes have since been squashed with the recent announcement that he was taking a step back from the game.
So what does this mean moving forward? Will Tiger be out for the rest of the 2015 PGA Tour season, and is there any legitimate reason to think when he does come back that he’ll be playing like the Tiger of old?
Injuries or Attitude?
The primary obstruction to Tiger’s comeback attempts in recent years seems to be a laundry list of recurring injuries. While some professional golfers have trouble finding their rhythm, correcting hitches in their strokes and occasionally getting their heads straight, Tiger’s issues always seem to revert to his back, although he explicitly stated on his website that his latest surgery wasn’t the issue.
Instead, Tiger’s reason for his Torrey Pines departure was for other ailments, or as he so eloquently put it last week, his “glutes kept shutting off and would not stay activated,” whatever that means.
Whether it’s his back or his backside, Woods’ body simply isn’t cooperating on the golf course, which in turn is affecting his game in the worst way possible. Note Woods’ performance at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where the struggling pro failed to make the weekend cut, posting a career-worst score of 82.
As if his showing at TPC Scottsdale wasn’t bad enough, Tiger went on to falter during the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California. It was here at Torrey Pines that Tiger made it to the 12th hole during his opening round before signaling to his caddie to fetch his ball marker just a few yards away from the pin and call it a day. This time, a 90-minute delay in play due to heavy fog was to blame. A hitch was thrown into Woods’ rhythm, and that’s all she wrote.
At any rate, Tiger Woods is probably regretting jumping back into the game as early as he did. It’s no secret that we were thrilled to hear about one of golf’s greatest players making his return, so naturally our hopes were high and our spirits optimistic about the Big Cat’s homecoming, especially since he appeared to be looking forward to getting back on the course for the new season.
Golf great Jack Nicklaus seems to think that the root of Tiger’s struggles has more to do with his mind, than his body, quoting “I think he’s struggling more between his ears than he is any place else.” However, he does think that Tiger “needs positive things to happen” and will turn it around.
If only players could make it on willpower alone. Let’s hope Tiger gets the rest, practice, and support he needs to make a stellar comeback later this season.