The announcement that Tiger Woods has decided to take an indefinite break from golf tournaments can be viewed as not only a sad day for the sport but also a sign that the watching public may never again witness a repeat of the days when the American was undisputed World number one golfer and capable of winning Grand Slam events with a certain degree of panache.
At 39 years of age, Woods is now struggling to surpass the record created by the legendary Jack Nicklaus in securing 18 ‘Major’ tournament wins with the last of his 14 victories being registered in the US Open back in 2008. Since then Woods has been involved in a series of protracted issues regarding his personal life while a succession of injuries have curtailed his tournament participation in recent years with knee and back complaints particularly troublesome. Back surgery in 2014 prevented him playing in the US Open of that year.
Just last month, Woods recorded his worst ever round of 82 at Arizona and not only missed the cut but finished last of the 162 competitors. He withdrew after just 12 holes at an event at Torrey Pines last week citing an unrelated back issue but also declaring that he his current golf form is ‘unacceptable ‘ for the current PGA tour.
Woods will now allegedly concentrate on rectifying the problems with his swing and overall game but it may also be a reaction to the fact of trying too hard to compete with fellow golfers capable of driving the ball further distances. Injuries are likely to have hindered the natural style of Woods yet he always drew the crowds in a major tournament with his ability to conjure impossible golf shots from almost unplayable positions and for an uncanny skill in sinking long difficult putts under the greatest of pressure.
For many years, the appearance of Woods at any golf tournament has attracted a larger crowd than normal but the fact that he is now ranked at position 62 in the World rankings emphasises the decline of the American and even that placing may be not be a true reflection of his current malaise.
Mark Steinberg acting as agent for Tiger Woods has stressed that this will not be a leave of absence for his client but a means of regaining his best form ahead of more important prizes later this year. It remains to see whether Woods will return in the near future or whether his best days are most definitely behind this former great golfer.
It was considered almost a formality in 2008 that Woods would become the greatest ever Major tournament winner, but the chances of just adding to his own personal tally now appear remote as he faces the challenges of more capable younger aspirants.