Here we are on the eve of the 2015 Masters Tournament, not knowing for sure how Tiger Woods will play. I can’t believe I’m saying this. It’s Woods’ first tournament back since withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on February 6th. For the first time since 1996, Woods has fallen out of the Top 100 in the world rankings. Let me say that again. It’s been nearly two decades, 20 years, since Tiger Woods has been ranked outside the Top 100 players in the world. Woods is No. 104.
Will Woods be able to keep the ball in the fairway? Will he shank pitches, chili-dip chips, or butcher bunker shots? Will he be around for the weekend, or will Woods simply withdraw from another tournament with yet another mysterious back injury to avoid the pain and embarrassment of his so-called “chipping” yips? So many unanswered questions. One thing that we can say for sure: Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships is safe. Forever. As a fan of Tiger Woods the golfer, not the human being, it’s hard for me to admit.
I didn’t come to this opinion hastily. Rather, I base it on several factors. Tiger Woods is no longer playing golf. To me, he is no longer a golfer. He is a robot masquerading as a golfer. More machine than man. He reminds me of Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy (the first three movies, the good ones). The man who was once Anakin Skywalker ceases to exist. Darth Vader has taken over. Tiger Woods is too mechanical – too focused on the latest swing theories from his latest swing coach to possibly execute a golf shot under pressure. It’s sad really. Tiger Woods, perhaps the greatest golfer I have ever seen or ever will see, is stumbling around the golfing outfield like Willie Mays did during his last season at Shea Stadium back in 1973.
Even after everything I have already seen Tiger Woods do, even after all the things I have seen Tiger Woods accomplish, I don’t think Tiger Woods has it in him. I don’t know if he’s physically capable anymore. I don’t know if he still has the motivation after all these years. What does he have left to prove? He’s already got money. He’s already got fame. He’s already lost his reputation. What’s left? Tiger Woods has to win four more major championships just to tie Jack Nicklaus. He has to win five more majors to surpass him. How can he do that when he can’t even finish a tournament? I hope Tiger proves me wrong.