In spite of his off the course issues, Tiger Woods still remains the most high-profiled and visible athlete on the planet. Granted, one could surmise that NBA player LeBron James , and Barcelona soccer star , Lionel Messi and his counterpart with Real Madrid , Cristiano Ronaldo , might now rival Woods , rival the PGA Tour player, in terms of popularity , if not commercial endorsement earnings . Tiger Woods has regained his status as a global marketing icon and world number one ranking , having earned on average in excess of $65 million a year , over the past six years, far exceeding that of the aforementioned athletes in question .
In recent years, however, questions surrounding Woods, have been whether or not, he remains capable of winning another Grand Slam Major. Firmly entrenched for the present in second place, with fourteen Grand Slam titles to his name , four behind his icon and hero , Jack Nicklaus , who leads that illustrious list with eighteen titles over the course of his historic career. Needing another four to tie Nicklaus, seems to have been the toughest thing for Tiger Woods to achieve at this juncture, with his last Grand Slam Major win being the 2008 US Open , where he defeated fellow American , Rocco Mediate in a three-hole playoff contest , which was played at the Torrey Pines Golf Course , in La Jolla , California , a club and course well-known to the Californian native.
Woods’ recent off the course issues have been well chronicled and his handling of the issue and the well-orchestrated presentation of the facts, still leave a lot to be desired, as the player in some respects did seek to apportion blame elsewhere , for his personal infidelities , that led to the breakup of his marriage to former model Elen Nordegren . The golfer, is still represented by Mark Steinberg and his Excel Sports Management Agency Boutique . In stepping away from IMG , which still remains the world’s largest sports’ management company, encompassing a wide a variety of areas, beyond representing a litany of athletes around the globe. Woods now has an agent and a glut of Steinberg’s subordinates to deal with his almost every whim, be it something small, to the more complex , in terms of a grandiose request. In many respects, I believe that may well have been what led to Woods’ fall from grace, beyond his sexual peccadilloes!
In having so many people around him, always willing to say yes and to cater to his very need, made Tiger Woods believe that he was impervious to any type of criticism that was likely to come his way or be leveled at him , even when it came to his play on a golf course .
Having won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award for the eleventh time of his career , when he won only five times on the PGA Tour last year , without a Major to his name. It could be said that Tiger Woods may well have won the award by default , but consider the fact, that in 2013 , no other golfer on the Tour was as successful, in terms of wins. Phil Mickelson , a considerable talent , has long been considered Woods’ greatest rival , but in the true sense of the word, it has been a rivalry built upon a myth, rather than the evidence being there to suggest otherwise. Rarely have the two played alongside each other , when there is said to have been a Major tournament on the line and when that has said to have been the case , one or the other, has failed to live up to expectations, normally , with Woods gaining the upper hand .
The Washington Post
By Sally Jenkins , Columnist
By Sally Jenkins, Published: March 19 E-mail the writer
It’s impossible to know how serious Tiger Woods’s back problem is, whether it’s a temporary twinge or a serious herniation. But something more is going wrong with his game than back spasms. Woods is having cramps between the ears as well, the kind that come with fraying nerves, the betrayal of aging, and mental self-doubt.
Woods would not have withdrawn Tuesday from his favorite seasonal fire-starter of a tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unless he was in genuine physical distress. Bay Hill has long been his favorite tune-up, and obviously he sacrificed it because he’s concerned about his ability to be healthy for the Masters.
The problem is that Bay Hill has always been the place where Woods gets his mind right for Augusta. With eight victories in 16 entries, it’s where he convinces himself he’s in good enough form. The larger and more worrying context to his withdrawal is that, at 38, Woods seems increasingly unable to pull together his game, his body, and his head all at the same time in order to compete for major championships . A bad back, for example, isn’t why he’s become so susceptible to three-putts.
The notoriously close-mouthed Woods won’t describe the exact nature of his back problem except to say he’s treating it with “protocols.” Which has set off a frenzy of speculation over what is plaguing him. Which is the cart and which is the horse, his scattered swing or the injury? Has he become so chronically tweaky and injury-prone, with consecutive seasons of knee, elbow, Achilles’, and back ailments, that he’s less able to work on his game? Or is he more tweaky precisely because he has overworked himself, pushing his body in the gym and on the golf course with constant, torquing, insecure swing experiments?
Woods himself may not know the order, the cause and effect of his problems. There just is an overall sense of physical disorganization: in February in Dubai he seemed healthy but was wild off the tee, so he fiddled with his grip. That seemed to fix something. But then he needed 29 putts on 13 greens.
Woods’s former coach Hank Haney hazarded on his SiriusXM radio show back in January that one of Woods’s problems is that he has over-emphasized upper body bulk, at the expense of other parts of his game.
“My opinion is he did too much of that,” Haney said. “He does a lot of the gym stuff. I know you need to do some for golf, no doubt about it. You need to be in shape, you need to avoid injury, but my opinion is he really overdoes that.”
You wonder if Woods compromised his back with so much weight work.
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If the PGA Tour is to remain vital, as well as vibrant, then beyond Woods’ presence , Phil Mickelson, as well as Rory McIlroy , will have to provide more of a presence and a challenge for the best player of this generation and over the past sixteen seasons. As I alluded to earlier, the World Golf rankings , have Woods, back at the top of the table , with Australian , Adam Scott now standing at number two in the rankings . The 2014 PGA Tour schedule now has a revamped format , with the events starting even earlier than usual, for what now has become almost a calendar year-long season . Tiger Woods, is a five-time winner of the event and was due to be a participant , but has withdrawn, due to recurring back spasm pains . If at this stage of his career, the world’s number one of golfer is now suffering from this type of malady , then the likelihood of his surpassing Nicklaus’ eighteen Major Grand Slam wins, may well be insurmountable , never mind the fact that his seventy-nine career wins now stands second all-time on the careers’ list behind the legendary Sam Snead .
Were it not for Tiger Woods , the PGA Tour would not be in a position, where it has gone from a twenty event schedule and with total prize money of just over $ 6 million year , to where it has now become a multi-billion dollar entity, with over fifty-five events , of which officially , forty are PGA sanctioned for the scheduled calendar , with total prize money exceeding quarter of a billion dollars ($250 million) . I doubt that there are very few professional sports’ circuits, where there are such riches to be garnered, even for non-winners of an event , when a tenth place finish, can attract in excess of $100,000 in prize money, if there is not a tie amongst the top ten finishers !
I believe that Woods still remains capable of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all time Majors’ win tally , but much of that will be undoubtedly be predicated upon the player’s continued health issues and that of his mental mindset. There is no denying, at his every best or just slightly below it , he remains leaps and bounds , better than over ninety percent of his fellow competitors on the PGA Tour . The continued idiocy, of his peers having caught up to him, in terms of talent , is merely a way to create further debate , when in reality there is none to be had. Woods may no longer be winning at a constant clip , as first witnessed, in the early part of his career , or at the point , where he won four consecutive Majors , a feat not completed by any other golfer in history . To be truly that dominant, does take talent . and none of his current peers of this generation have been able to achieve that . Furthermore, as if to emphasize Woods influence and dominance on the game , consider the fact that , he is currently the only golfer on the PGA Tour to have won a career Grand Slam and to have won more than eight tournaments in a single season . So when we talk about dominance , why not put it into a real perspective and not through the idiocy of the type of asinine analysis that at times has been provided by the likes of buffoons, such as Johnny Miller and Jim Gray or a columnist such as Christine Brennan !
Were Woods still competing at the Bay Hill Invitational and in contention , then in all likelihood the television viewership is likely to be considerably less than anticipated , another reason why the PGA Tour has become reliant upon Woods more than any other golfer in the game’s history for its rise in prominence, beyond the player’s ethnicity. On the flip side of this equation, it is somewhat unfortunate , that the game especially on the PGA Tour has not seen a greater participation of players of ethnicity that are home-grown and of American origin . Other than, Notah Begay III , the only other minority to compete in PGA Tour sanctioned event just happens to be only Tiger Woods. Neither Woods or PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem have been able to give a convincing enough explanation for such an absenteeism , given the disparity and the very fact that perhaps golf’s most prestigious tournament outside of the British Open , The US Masters , until a few years ago was very much restrictive in its allowance of female members at Augusta , Georgia , never mind the fact, that until Woods’ first appearance in that event in 1997 , when he won the tournament. The last player of color to compete in the event as an invitee who happened to be an African-American or ethnic American , was in fact Lee Elder in competing , in the 1975 Masters.
Golf still has a long way to go before it can actually find an acceptance amongst minorities , wherein the game itself is more affordable amongst the masses, rather than continuing to be a sport, that primarily meets the economic reach of a select few. Tiger Woods and his foundation , may well be trying to change that image as such, but with the main emphasis of the organization being to provide a safe haven for at risk youth and that of a starting point in getting an education and learning self-respect. The fruits of the labor, by way of the PGA have yet to be met , nor have they made their own evidence public , as to having met any of the goals that they are said to have set, in making the game more accessible to minorities at large .
The third round of the Bay Hill Invitational is still in progress , with the lead being held by Adam Scott at -14 , a seven-stroke advantage over second-place J B Holmes , shared also by Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari , with Keegan Bradley , a further shot back at -6 under par. Scott will be looking at this , as making further inroads into the world ranking points’ lead that Tiger Woods maintains over him at present , while also seeking to find some form with the first Grand Slam Major of the season less than a month away. The 2014 Masters at Augusta, April 10th to 13th, will be where Adam Scott will be looking to become the first player to make a successful defense of the “Green Jacket” , since Tiger Woods in 2002 , with the world’s number one golfer having won that tournament in 2001 , the year previously.
With the Valero Texas Open , at the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Texas and the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble , Texas , being the only two intervening tournaments between now and The Masters , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods makes an appearance in either contest in the lead-up to the first Major of the season. Without an appearance , it would be extremely difficult to view the four-time winner of that prestigious event, as a prohibitive favorite , but at the same time , it would also be foolish to count him out altogether , given his experience in the event.
Phil Mickelson will be making an appearance at the Valero Open, hoping to sharpen up his game, in preparation for The Masters . Adding another Major to his career , would prove to be of benefit to a former winner of the Green Jacket and solidify his place as one of the best US golfers of the past decade and a half. Elevation into the World Golf Hall of Fame awaits both Woods, with the duo having already met the criteria for induction into that hallowed vestige of golf’s very best. For the moment however, we can simply watch their exploits on the course , with the continued hope, that they can provide us all, with a great deal more excitement , thrills and great golf over the remainder of their collective careers !
Picture gallery .
Share your thoughts with regard to this article and what if anything, do you believe Tiger Woods has actually done for the sport of golf overall ?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Arnold Palmer , is seen here with PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods after the player won the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational at the Bay Hill Course , in Orlando , Florida , in 2013. It was one five tournament wins for Woods , last season , during which he won over $8.556 million in prize money , pushing his career earnings from golf alone to over $105 million , in prize money alone . He is the first such golfer to achieve that feat , even if one were to take into account inflation , concerning earlier earnings . AP Photo / Chris Belcher ……
(2) Tiger Woods shares a few moments with golf legend Jack Nicklaus as they walk the course prior to the start of the 2000 PGA Championship , which was held at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville , Kentucky ,. Woods go on to defeat Bob Tway to win the tournament . Getty Images / Scott Messner …..
(3) From left to right , Phil Mickelson , Tiger Woods and Adam Scott are seen here at the 2013 Tour Championship , which was played at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta , Georgia . Long considered by the Tour professionals as one of golf’s best tournaments , outside of the four Grand Slam Majors , the event was won by Henrik Stenson of Sweden . Stan Badz/ Getty Images ……..
(4) Golf pioneer Lee Elder gets all emotional, having been greeted by Tiger Woods , after the player had just won The Masters . Elder was the first African-American player to be granted an invitation to play in the event , when golf as a professional sport on the PGA Tour became desegregated in 1961 . Ames Bishop / Ebony Magazine ….. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …….
(5) Adam Scott hits from the fairway on the fifth hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla ,. Will Allen Jr/ AP Photo ….