Swing and Swish: Tedious injury holds back golf’s biggest name

Sports Editor Mike Moxley discusses current events and issues in basketball and golf. Reading this column will keep you caught up with your favorite teams and players.

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Grimacing in pain and falling to his knees during the final round of The Barclays, a tournament in August 2013, Tiger Woods knows something is severely wrong with his back. It was evident from that moment on, Woods’ career was taking a turn for the worst.

It’s no secret that Woods has struggled over the last few years. Sidelined with knee and back injuries, at almost 40 years old, his future isn’t nearly as bright as his past.

His accomplishments are up with the greats of golf like Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead, but recent injuries and personal issues surrounding him are more newsworthy than his actual play.

His personal life has been an issue. The cheating scandal in 2010 cost him a lot of money and valuable time he could have spent winning golf tournaments, while he was at the peak of his career.

However, from 1996 to 2004 he missed the cut only once. Since 2004 he has missed the cut 14 times. Every year it seems like the competition is getting increasingly more intense, and with Woods getting older, it is an uphill battle. Injuries are something he can’t afford at his age if he wants to get back healthy, let alone back to number one in the world golf rankings.

Young upcoming talents in the PGA Tour looking to capture the spotlight include Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Rickie Fowler. They are getting better every year, leaving Woods in the dust.

Woods returned this year after his first back surgery for perhaps the biggest tournament of the PGA Tour season, the Masters Golf Tournament. He played well considering the circumstances, but still finished the tournament 13 shots behind winner Jordan Spieth.

Further on in the season he started to become more competitive, especially at the Greenbrier tournament in July 2015. He was in contention going into the weekend, and according to Golf.com, they sold 100,000 tickets, mostly due to Woods having an opportunity to win the tournament.

This past season Woods made 11 starts and had just as many withdrawals as top 10’s, which was one.

Woods was registered to play the opening tournament of the new golf season, the Frys.com Open October 2015, but began to experience chronic back pain the week of Sept. 10. Woods went to a doctor’s appointment that week, and on Sept. 16, had successful microscopic surgery.

The rehabilitation time is three months, but that doesn’t count the swing and mental rehabilitation he will have to go through.

Anyone on the PGA Tour can go out and play four rounds of golf with nobody watching and shoot 5 or 10 under par, but with the fanbase Woods has, the mental aspect is as influential as the physical.                  

USA Today talked with Woods’ fellow competitor Billy Horschel who said, “He needs to get healthy. This game needs him. Everyone in the game knows he’s the biggest draw in the game.”

The presence of Woods isn’t just his golfing ability, but his legacy. When he missed the Masters in 2014, the viewership and attendance was drastically down. He has done as much for golf as Michael Jordan has for the NBA.

His fans are not giving up, and you can’t blame them. Woods is a fierce competitor and has proven that throughout his career, but his age is finally catching up to him.

Mike Moxley is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.