Controversy nothing new to ‘face of golf’

In Sports
Tiger Woods reacts to his shot during the first round if the Quai Hollow Championship. Photo Courtesy MCT.

Ten years ago, at Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods changed golf. He destroyed the field en route to his first U.S. Open victory. Now, his life is riddled with personal issues and he struggles to make the cut.

Woods withdrew from the Players Championship in the middle of Sunday’s round, claiming that a neck injury will keep him from playing.

Woods says the injury has been bothering him since two weeks before last month’s Masters and fears that it could be a bulging disk. He is also quick to point out that it has absolutely no relation to the November car crash that eventually brought Woods’ “transgressions” into the public eye.

But this is the same Woods who earlier in the week said he was 100 percent healthy while trying to explain missing the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship last weekend.

Is there something wrong physically? Maybe, but his neck probably hurts as much as Lebron James’ “injured” elbow. Is there something wrong mentally? Definitely. Woods’ withdrawal is a combination of both; he is not up to par physically and not prepared mentally.

During his five month-long hiatus from golf, Woods rarely picked up a club. It is extremely difficult to simulate an actual tournament and no amount of practice can take the place of competing professionally. If he was no good, at least he’d have an excuse.

Despite this, Woods returned successfully, finishing fourth at the Masters. The performance had everyone thinking that Woods could block out his problems off the course as long as he was on one.

Since then, he has been terrible. After missing the cut for only the sixth time in his career, he was dismal at Quail Hollow and quit seven holes into a round. His family issues could be taking a toll on him as he spends more time competing and less time at home. Aside from his personal problems, Woods has to deal with the stress of trying to maintain the world’s No. 1 ranking while Phil Mickelson looks primed to take it.

He will now head home to Orlando, where he will have an MRI to determine the severity of his neck injury. His immediate future in golf is in doubt.

Woods says he would like to play in the Memorial which starts on June 6, in order to prepare for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach starting June 17. In all likelihood, Woods will participate in those events even if he does not feel 100 percent. However, he would be better off staying home.

Watching him play is a struggle and it is obvious that he is not mentally ready for competition. Even if Woods was ready to compete physically, nobody could have prepared him for the steady stream of media inquiries and dwindling fan base.

The Tiger of old is gone. He is no longer a superhero or golf god. He is merely a flawed human, like anybody else, and that is how he is now treated. The world of Woods is much different.

Once the headline story on “SportsCenter,” he can now be seen on TMZ. The times he let his frustration get the better of him on the course are no longer tolerated. Hecklers can now be heard in his caravan and even Woods does not seem to find humor in his press conference one-liners. He will forever be questioned and criticized.

Woods nostalgically wants to return to Pebble Beach, 10 years after defeating the field by a whopping 15 strokes. Instead of thinking about golf, he should stay home and attempt to solve his family issues and make amends for his transgressions.

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