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Tiger Woods at a Crossroads

by Jeff Skinner

The Tiger Woods Saga continued yesterday as Woods announced that he would not be playing in the U.S. Open next week due to his ailing left knee.  Tiger stated that he is taking doctor’s advice in resting the leg in an effort to prevent any further damage.  He’s taking a long term view this time which contrasts greatly with the Tiger of 2008 when he defied his doctor’s advice and won the U.S. Open on a leg and a half.  But that was a different Tiger Woods.

The 2008 version of Woods never saw a course he couldn’t win on.  He never saw a putt he couldn’t make.  He never saw an opponent he couldn’t intimidate.  He never saw a journalist that he couldn’t put in his place.  In 2008 Tiger ruled the world, like he had for the decade before.  Today he’s an injured champion that hasn’t won a major since that 2008 Open.  His professional career is in constant free fall. His personal life, while stable, is a work in progress.  His golf game is nowhere to be found and his new Sean Foley experiment is on hold again until he can get healthy.

To say these are trying times for Woods is an understatement.  Tiger is no longer Tiger.  Before Tiger-Gate there wasn’t a more confident person in any sport than Tiger Woods.  He didn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder; it was more like a massive tree that he formed into a chip with his bare hands right before our eyes.  He exuded more confidence than any man could match.  It was his world and he made the rules.  Things are different now.  His life a mess, his swing in pieces, and his confidence gone…Woods is at the biggest crossroads of his career.

He could never play again and he still is remembered as one of the greatest sports figures ever.  He could restart his career when healthy and rip off some more majors and wind up with twenty majors.  The old Tiger won majors at a rate like no one had before.  But this is a new Tiger, a Tiger that is rebuilding his life from the spikes up.  I can’t help but think that Tiger and Mark Steinberg have circled the wagons and dug in for the long haul. I can envision the two of them planning their comebacks now; Steinberg in the role of Dr. Frankenstein, Tiger as The Monster.  They’re in the lab now working on building the “New Tiger Woods.”  If they have their way it could be pretty scary.

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