It was either the supernova of golf’s brightest star, or just one massive media beat-up. Simon Plumb separates the wheat from the chaff, the Woods from the trees and tries to translate Tiger – explaining why this is not the end, after all.
Let’s just put this to bed straight off the bat, shall we: That was not Tiger Woods’ retirement.
This week’s Hero World Challenge, the PGA Tour’s annual charity golf event hosted by Woods, has been engulfed by a contextual firestorm. Contextual because, well, there hasn’t been any.
Tiger Woods has been consistently injured for years – most seriously his back and most recently his third surgery to try and fix a niggling nerve that just won’t, as Happy Gilmore would say, “go home.”
The two previous attempts to nudge the nerve back into place have been thought to work, seeing Woods return relatively quickly after going under the knife. But this one’s been different. In an attempt for the 14-time Major champion to stay capable of not only playing, but actually winning, Woods has been much quieter post-surgery. He’s not made predictions of a return date, he’s just letting the rehab call the shots. Sounds sensible.
So when this week’s host sat before the media at a pre-tournament press conference, inevitably the questions weren’t about Indian number one Anirban Lahiri’s debut in the 18-man field nor the speed of the greens, but instead when the fudge would Tiger actually be back playing?
The answer, was one of honesty.
“Therein lies the tough question, and the tough answer – ‘cos I have no answer for that and neither does my surgeon, or my physios,” Woods said. “There is no timetable, so that’s the hardest part. That’s the hardest part for me.
“There’s really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build toward, it’s just taking it, literally, day by day, week by week, time by time.”
Ignoring the fact nobody actually knows what “time by time” means as a proverb, Woods’ answer appeared to centre on one thing – refusing to predict when he would come back. Last time, it was the Masters, but this time, he’s saying he actually doesn’t know when his body will be ready to start swinging a club again.
Tiger Woods on his future in golf: ‘There’s nothing I can look forward to’ (The Guardian)
Tiger Woods hints his competitive career is almost over with bleak assessment of his chances (Telegraph UK)
A resigned Tiger Woods holds most depressing press conference of his career (SN Nation)
Tiger Woods says he can only walk, but is he thinking about walking away? (Golf News Net)
Did I miss something?
As a journalist, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was from Scottish investigative reporter Andrew Jennings. A man whose spent his career investigating Mafia, crooked cops and Fifa.
“Simon, it’s not about the question you ask. It’s about how many times you ask it.”
So, considering the scale of the angles being tapped out on laptops during Woods’ press conference this week, you’d think there’d be a move for clarity, a direct push to ask Woods whether he thought this might actually be ‘it’.
Even from just one journo in that room.
Someone, anyone, put your hand up and just ask him.
Mmmmm, well apparently not. So don’t you have to wonder why?
On a lighter note, the same press conference also threw up this Freudian slip of Tiger Woods actually saying “I had just a tremendous amount of sex”