Jack Nicklaus can rest easy.
Tiger Woods isn’t going to beat his record of 18 major championships. He hasn’t won a major since 2008 and not only does it look like he won’t win another, you have to wonder if he’s ever going to win any tournament ever again.
Woods is stuck on 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour victories, good for second place all-time behind the 82 of Sam Snead.
From all appearances, the abuse that Woods’ body has taken with such a ferocious swing has finally caught up with him.
Injury after injury, including a number of surgeries, has caused a shutdown of what was once the most dominant figure in the game of golf.
Woods is 39 years old. He is on his fifth coach, if you count his dad, Earl. Each time he’s gotten a new coach he’s gotten a new swing.
Everybody who knows Woods says his greatest strength is his mental acuity. He just has an ability to create, to hit the big shot when it’s needed. Other players marvel at his focus.
But those days are clearly gone. The guy shot an 82 last week, the worst round he’s ever had as a pro. An 82! Tiger Woods!
And this week he withdrew from a tournament in the second round, citing pain in his recently repaired back. He walked off after talking about the technical failings in his swing and the fact that he had a long wait that created the stiffness in his back.
All of this, however, seems like whistling in the wind.
It’s easy to believe that Woods is just plain worn out, both mentally and physically. He has survived a lot, injuries, the horrors of his sex scandal, his divorce, the constant scrutiny and, this is just a guess, the loneliness of being so dominant.
Woods has never seemed to be one of the guys, even though some people, including Madison’s Steve Stricker, seemed to have a slight relationship with him.
What is happening to Woods is not unique to him. It’s happened to many great athletes from Babe Ruth to Joe Namath. The glare, that fueled so many, can also wear you down.
I’ve never been a big fan of Woods. When you see Phil Mickelson stopping to sign every autograph request and then see Woods walk right by those same kids, it’s hard to like the guy.
But he has had an incredible impact on professional golf, almost equal to the impact that Arnold Palmer had. Because of Woods the money became astronomical. Television ratings soared when he played, and plunged when he didn’t.
Golf is going to be a much different sport without him.
There are a hundred guys who can play out there. There are probably a couple of dozen who are a little above the rest of the field. But it’s just a little. Nobody is dominant.
While Woods is toast, it’s also looks like Mickelson may be near the end of his road. But that’s far from certain because he still seems healthy.
The PGA Tour now seems populated by the guys who wear white belts and never bother to smile and show absolutely no emotion. There are no heroes. And any sport needs a hero.
We all need someone to root for and someone who excels against all odds. Part of Woods’ background was a big reason so many people adored him. He wasn’t a country club baby. He was a black guy in a white guy sport. He could play like nobody else.
When Tiger Woods turned pro in August 1996, I was there. When he hit his second shot as a pro, on the first hole at Brown Deer, a friend of mine, Bill Jennaro, ran out and grabbed the divot. I’d guess he still has it.
I will remember forever the news conference in which Woods announced he was turning pro. It was a hot day inside a tent at Brown Deer. The place was packed.
"Hello World," he said with that famous grin.
My guess, and I’m not alone on this, is it’s time for Woods to sit down again and say, "Goodbye World."
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.