After missing the cut again at the PGA Championship this past weekend, Tiger Woods was faced with many questions circling the upcoming Ryder Cup and if that is where his focus should lie. The annual Cup, about the closest structure golf has to being a team sport, comes at a time when Woods is injured and at constant risk anytime he picks up a club. While some contend that he could still help the team, one of the best golfers of all time has decided to skip this year’s festivities and focus elsewhere.
His disappointment has been apparent in quotes and posts on his own website. “I’m extremely disappointed,” he said in a statement, “that I won’t be ready for competition.” His posts confirmed his absence and offered a window to his potential return at the World Challenge at Isleworth in Orlando, Florida beginning December 4. His agent then confirmed that the public can expect Tiger Woods to be absent from any event until the World Challenge.
Woods’ back problems really began to bother his game late last year in a moment of agony when he dropped to his knees in pain on the course after a shot. After surgery for a pinched nerve, he came back in only a few months in what, in hindsight, may have been too early. There have only been momentary spikes of adequate play that have been dragged down by injury, inconsistency, and not enough repetitions in his words. Out of the four tournaments since his return, he has withdrawn from one due to the same back injury and missed the cut on the most recent (PGA Championship). His performance on the other two never had him in serious contention come the final day.
Tiger Woods, while focusing away from Ryder Cup and any other golf action, will not be just sitting around the house waiting to heal. In fact, he is scheduled to appear with the golfer many experts consider better than him now, Rory McIlroy, on The Tonight Show. McIlroy has taken Tiger’s throne in a number of ways during this rash of injuries, among them being the number one overall ranking in golf. He is also the first to win three consecutive events since Woods accomplished the same several times earlier in his career.
There are not many that can contend with Woods when one looks at career numbers. From 2000 to 2003, he won at least five events per year with that total reaching ten in 2000. He still sits at 14 major championships, having not won one since 2008, and in second place on the all time list.
The Ryder Cup, regardless of Tiger Woods’ focus, will take place at the Gleneagles course in Scotland on September 26, with the teams to be finalized on September 2. Woods’ time away from practice and the game could finally refill his engine somewhere near the top that he showed over a decade ago. He now has many skeptics and doubters in the media and public, each a bit tired of seeing the crashes outweigh the pace Tiger Woods is capable of setting on any course. However, Woods still hopes to prove each doubter wrong.
By Myles Gann