Eldrick Tont Woods has become the mystery man. Nobody knows exactly what's going on with Tiger.
A recent report stated he was having major problems with his back -- again. So bad, that he had great difficulty even sitting or riding in a car. Forget driving, the passenger seat had to be tilted at just the right angle to alleviate his agony. And it varied. Some days 30 degrees loft would work. Others, maybe it took 45 or even 60. So was this guy riding shotgun or a human sand wedge?
Not long ago a TV talking head made an interesting point. This could be a good thing for Tiger. On the surface, it would seem to be preposterous. How can a guy supposedly suffering so much benefit from it?
But let's also remember that, not long ago, Woods himself said he didn't want to go through any more back surgeries. Sounded reasonable enough. Who would? But that's the thing. If his back is THAT bad, it will force him under the knife again, and maybe this time the surgeons can get it right. Evidently the last couple go-rounds in the OR didn't work out so well. Did the former surgeons botch it, or was the damage just not long-term reparable? We don't know for sure and the doctors aren't talking. But if fixable by another more qualified team, after a proper rehab period, perhaps Tiger could regain his old form on the golf courses. It's a shot.
Fast forward only a couple weeks. See Tiger swinging a club, evidently good-to-go, in a golf simulation room. See Tiger whack the ball. See the ball whack the screen. See the video game projection play out. It must be nice to have a room like that to practice in.
That would seem to beg the obvious question. Is Tiger truly hurting or just laying low? While the other guys on tour have played various tournaments around the world, recently the California circuit and now in Florida, still no sign of Tiger.
It's no great secret that the top players in the world are doing everything they can to groom their games for the Masters Tournament that will happen a little over a month from now. That's the big showdown they're all preparing for. Sure, they try hard at different courses under different conditions to score well, and hopefully even win in the meantime, but they all have their sights set on Augusta National the first week of April. They will freely admit as much.
Some of the big guns from last year have flown beneath the radar so far. Jordan Spieth hasn't exactly been tearing it up. Neither has Jason Day. True, Bubba Watson won a tournament and Ricky Fowler is leading the current one. Yet Rory McElroy is floundering about and, in the tournaments he does enter, has been far from a lock to even make the cut. And the other usual suspects from Europe are lying low, honing their games abroad, in anticipation of the Masters. It's a huge deal, arguably the Super Bowl of golf. We get that.
But Eldrick remains a mystery. Has he been hurting all along, or was that just a scam to play on public sympathy? Unknown. Even if healthy, swinging a golf club in a simulator room is a far cry from walking 18 holes every day and hitting shots from sometimes awkward positions. Tiger is now 40 years old. Not exactly a geezer in the golf world, but hardly a young gun anymore either.
And that's another thing. What young Tiger did to the "old pros" a generation ago -- as in beat their brains out -- has recently been done to him by the "new guys" even when Woods was healthy.
It would be difficult to argue that Eldrick Tont Woods didn't have the greatest decade in the history of pro golf. It was incredible. He was winning just about everything, and it was a given that he would blow past Jack's record of winning 18 majors. But it didn't work out that way, did it? The whole adultery/divorce thing, combined with various physical ailments (real or "convenient"), slammed the brakes on his golfing career. He's no longer considered in the top 200 golfers, let alone #1. (And what kind of goofball finds a way to get a tooth knocked out by a cameraman while watching his girlfriend snow ski in the Alps?)
Nevertheless, there's one thing we can count on. Whatever Tiger's doing these days, and whatever his physical ailments may or may not be -- he'll find a way to tee it up at Augusta. And many in the gallery will root for him. Go Tiger go.
His chances of winning? Zilch. Nada. Given the current field of younger world-class players, it's highly unlikely he'll even make the cut. They'll eat him alive. But he'll be there.
Tiger groupies can claim that it isn't over yet. Even Nicklaus won a green jacket when he was 46 years old. True enough.
But Tiger ain't Jack any more -- in more ways than one. Actually, he never was.
There was that little thing called "class".
Some have it -- and some never will........