By In Stuff

Turning Back Time

There were no poetic words written for Babe Ruth’s final game at the stadium he built. Nobody mused about Gods and letters. The game was Sept. 23, 1934. It was well known before the game even started that this would certainly be his last home game as a regular, and probably his last home game as a Yankee. About 2,000 people showed up to see it. Ruth walked for the 104th time that season — one thing the man could still do was draw a walk — and then he came out of the game for what the papers called a “charley horse.” Ruth did finish off the season on the road, playing three games in Philadelphia and Washington, and he went to Boston the next year to play 28 sad games as a gimmick for the Braves. This proved, in the reverse of those immortal words by John Updike, that Babe Ruth did not know how to do the hardest thing: Quit.

But the point here is, people quit on him. He was 39, going on 40, and it was clear to everyone that he was done as a player (even though, with all those walks, he still posted a .448 on-base percentage in 1934). The Yankees offered him a minor league manager’s job then, upon his request, dumped him. After a few bad games in Boston, he retired. The point is, people understood that even the great Babe Ruth could not go on forever.

The same is true of Michael Jordan. He was, in the mind of most, the greatest basketball player who ever lived. I certainly believe that. His last six full seasons as a player in Chicago, he led the NBA in scoring and carried his Bulls to six championships. But when he came back to play for Washington at age 38, while there was a lot of buzz, there was no sense that he was the same, no sense that he could suddenly become young again. He still had enough fire and knew enough tricks to make himself a reasonable player, but nobody expected him to one day just become the invincible Michael Jordan again. And he never did.

Nobody (except perhaps wide-eyed Arizona management) expected Emmitt Smith to suddenly become his old dominant self when he went to play for the Cardinals at age 34. There was quite a bit of hype when Joe Namath went to play for the Rams at age 34, but only the people who believe in fairy tales could have thought that he was going to become Broadway Joe again (not with his knees shot and considering that he hadn’t really been worth a damn for three or four years). There was a desperate need by many (including me) to believe that Muhammad Ali had one more burst of brilliance left in him, one more butterfly dance and bee sting, and the house made a killing off those few naive souls who bet with their hearts when Ali fought Holmes. The house has built cities on the backs of naive souls who bet against time.

We often talk about how sad it was to watch Willie Mays flounder around at the end, to watch John Unitas get sacked time after time in a San Diego uniform that clashed with his football life, to watch Jim Palmer or Mark Spitz or Jim Brown begin “comebacks” that felt instead like sports funerals. They are sad, but I don’t know that we ever consider these things surprising. Somewhere inside, we understand and bow to the power of the years. Somewhere inside we know that even the greatest ever, even Dr. J., even Hogan, even Sampras and Aaron and Musial and Palmer, even Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson and Jack Nicklaus, all of them get old. And when you get old you don’t get young again. It’s the unbreakable rule.

And we all understand it: Nobody goes back in time.

Except … we keep thinking Tiger Woods will go back in time.

The “we” in that sentence is getting smaller, no question about it. The “Tiger will be great again” school seems to be shrinking. The more we see Tiger Woods flail about on the golf course, like he did again this past weekend at Torrey Pines, the more people do seem to wonder about his future. But there is still something about Tiger Woods that seems to bend our perception of time. I can’t remember another athlete quite like him in this way …

… no, that’s not quite right. There is another athlete who bent time: Mike Tyson. In 1990, you will obviously recall, Tyson was knocked out by a no-name boxer named Buster Douglas. It remains one of the most remarkable sporting events I have ever seen in my life, and there is a powerful back story involving Douglas’ mother and his father, and there is no question that Douglas for one day lifted himself and found something in himself that nobody really knew he had.

But there’s another way to tell the story: A no-name boxer named Buster Douglas (who was knocked out by Evander Holyfield shortly thereafter) knocked out Mike Tyson. And that was it for Tyson. He was never a great fighter again. He was never a good fighter again. He had interesting but hardly titanic back-to-back fights with Razor Ruddock. He was arrested and convicted of rape. He had a series of pathetic comeback fights against setup guys like Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr., before getting knocked out by Evander Holyfield. He fought Holyfield again and bit his ear. He failed a drug test after fighting the comical villain Andrew Golota. He was knocked out and thoroughly outclassed by Lennox Lewis.

And yet, time after time, no matter how low he felt, there was a group of people who seemed certain that Mike Tyson would re-emerge as a great fighter again. It didn’t matter how bad he looked, how weird and pathetic he became, there were many people who just kept expecting him to show up one day and be the Mike Tyson who scared Michael Spinks to the canvas in 90 seconds and knocked Trevor Berbick senseless. It made no sense, at all, none, but there it was –it’s like there was a blind spot in the Tyson mirror, an inability to see him as anything except the hyped and spartan young man who wore black trunks and became the youngest heavyweight champion ever. We could not imagine him growing old and toothless.

It seems to me there’s a bit of that same blind spot with Tiger Woods. Let’s look at a few facts about Woods: After the 2007 golf season, he had won 13 professional major championships, and he was turning 32, and there seemed little doubt that he would break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and semi-officially clinch his place as the greatest golfer who ever lived. In many people’s minds, he already WAS the greatest golfer who ever lived — Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, among others, say no one ever played at his level — but golf, like baseball, is a game of numbers and most agreed he needed to win six more majors to surpass the great Nicklaus. At the time, of course, it seemed like a foregone conclusion.

He finished second at Augusta in 2008, but it was a cosmetic second — he didn’t really challenge Trevor Immelman at any important point. This “failure” (which would have been a career highlight for almost anyone else ever) drove him. He went to the U.S. Open and put on the greatest show of his career. He basically won the U.S. Open on one leg. He beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff, though he grimaced on virtually every shot. That was his 14th major. Two days later, he had had reconstructive surgery done on his ACL. He missed the rest of the season.

He came back in 2009, and played well enough to sort-of, semi-contend at the Masters and the U.S. Open. He played miserably at Turnberry and missed the cut. He was still playing great for the most part — he won six times in 2009 — and at the PGA Championship he shot 67 on the first day, and led after the second and third days too. Tiger Woods had never lost a major championship he led going into the final day. Tiger Woods had never lost ANY tournament on American soil that he led going into the final day. But he lost that day. A no-name golfer named Y.E. Yang did not just beat him but crushed him in the final holes, eventually winning by three shots. It was as so stunning that people wrote it off. Like Buster. A fluke.

Three months later, Tiger Woods drove his Cadillac Escalade into a hedge, a fire hydrant and a tree at 2:30 a.m. We all know what happened after that.

Now, let’s look at this: You have a 35-year-old man who has not won a major championship since having reconstructive surgery on his knee — and in the last major where he contended he was taken out on Sunday. He has not won a tournament of any kind in a year and a half. He has gone through a very public divorce and a seemingly endless string of public embarrassments. He has changed swing coaches and has tried desperately and futilely to find a swing that fits his body and his age. Before this past weekend, he talked about how well he was hitting the ball at home, and he went to his favorite course, where he had won seven times, and after a pretty good couple of days (“I hit it as pure as I could possibly hit it starting out,” he told reporters) he played miserably over the weekend, shooting 74-75.

Sure, it’s just one tournament — and just the first of the season. Sure, it doesn’t mean anything — all of Woods’ preparation is focused on Augusta and the majors (that’s how Nicklaus was too). Sure, Woods’ game is still in transition — once his new swing kicks in, things might take off.

Sure, he could return to form, have another chapter as the greatest golfer in the world, win five more major championships* and claim his rightful place on the top of the list. But at this point, I think all that is a staggering long shot. He COULD have a glorious second career, absolutely. But I think at this point we have to say the opposite is more likely.

*I never think people realize just how unlikely it is for Tiger Woods to win five more major championships. Think about Phil Mickelson for a moment. He has been on tour for 16 years, since he was 25. He has won 38 times on the PGA Tour. That’s a Hall of Fame career — Phil Mickelson is almost certainly one of the 25 greatest golfers who ever lived. He has won FOUR majors in 63 starts. Does Tiger Woods have an entire Phil Mickelson career (plus one major) left in him over the rest of his career?

I was reminded of something watching the Farmer’s Insurance Open, a blatantly obvious but perhaps forgotten part of golf: To win a golf tournament, any golf tournament, you have to score lower than 100 or so of the best golfers in the world. That is: You have to beat the golfer who that week is draining every putt. You have to beat the golfer who who found a groove in his swing and is hitting every fairway. You have to beat the golfer who luckily chips in a couple of times, making his score artificially low. You have to beat the golfer who gets hot, makes five or six or seven birdies in a row, and rides that high. And you also have to beat the other great golfers, the ones who have extreme talent and burning competitiveness and want desperately to be the best in the world. At the major championships, all of this doubly true.

This is why even the best who ever played — Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson, Faldo, whoever — they didn’t win half the tournaments they entered or one-third of the tournaments they entered or even a quarter or one-fifth of the tournaments they entered. From 1962 to 1980, Nicklaus’s prime, he won 17 major championships — a glorious achievement. He finished second (or tied for second) 14 more times, which blows the mind. But that also means he finished below second 45 out of 76 times. And that’s the man who won more than anyone.

There are no cheap wins in golf, certainly not in the tournaments Tiger Woods plays. In tennis, you might get an easy bracket, your toughest opponent might withdraw with a hamstring injury, something strange might happen. But in golf, somebody is going to shoot a terrific score for the conditions. To win, you have to beat that score.

This makes what Tiger Woods has done — from 1999-to-2008, 10 years, he won 13 of the 38 majors he entered, and 58 of the 173 PGA tournaments he entered — beyond legendary. But people cannot possibly expect Tiger Woods — at his age, after surgery, after his slog through the tabloids and, mostly, after his golf swing confusion — to become that player again.

But many people do. There’s something about him that makes us think that. Nobody thinks Roger Federer is going to become the dominant force in tennis again. But people do think Tiger can (or will). Even I think that. As I write these words, a part of me is shouting “Come on, you’re not REALLY writing off Tiger Woods.” And I’m not. I think he is too mentally strong, too competitive, too knowledgeable to just disappear from the landscape. I don’t see him going dry like Arnold Palmer (who won his last major at 34) or Tom Watson (who won his last major at 33) or Nick Faldo (who won one major after he turned 35). I think he will have great moments yet.

But I think he is going to enter a new phase, where he will contend occasionally, like other golfers. He is going to enter a phase where it will be difficult to play well for four rounds. He is going to enter a phase where those 10 foot putts that were automatic will not be automatic anymore. I think things have changed for Tiger Woods, and they’re not going back. You can’t ever go back. And I don’t know how he is going to handle that. Nobody knows how he will handle it. Over the weekend, on one of his favorite courses, he looked lost. His swing was off. His short game was off. His putting was off. Yes, it was just his first tournament, but Tiger has always done really well in his first tournament — this was part of his game, he was always more ready to go when the seasons began than anyone else.

Anyway, what was as striking as anything was how uninterested he looked. I have never seen an athlete more laser focused than Tiger Woods. This was his greatest gift. He was locked in, all the time, it never stopped, on the course or off. He was driven to be the greatest golfer who ever lived, and every putt was to save the earth, and every shot was time stamped for history. No matter what question anyone asked him, the answer was: “I’m here to win.” No matter what challenge was thrown at him, the answer was: “I’m here to win.”

Does Tiger Woods still want to win? I have little doubt. Does Tiger Woods want to win in the same way he did four, five, six years ago, when he was young, when he felt healthy, when he was idolized, when his golf swing felt as natural to him as breathing? He came to the 18th hole on Sunday, and he needed to make a putt to shoot a 74, which is a lousy score for Tiger Woods and utterly irrelevant for scoreboard purposes. But it is better than a 75. That has always been the driving force for Tiger Woods. One shot better.

No one but Tiger Woods can know what he was thinking at that moment. All we can know is that he missed the putt, tipped his cap to the crowd, and went to sign his scorecard. “I have some work to do,” he told reporters.

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35 Responses to Turning Back Time

  1. George says:

    I’ve believed he was done ever since the scandal blew up. He’s no longer Tiger the invincible. He is Tiger the wife-chased-around-with a golf club. he is Tiger the hangs-around-with-women-of-questionable-taste. he is Tiger the I-can’t-believe-I-ever-had-him-endorse-my-product. Tiger Industries is closed for good.

    Tiger believed the mystique about himself more than anyone–and now that mystique is ripped, dead, burned, and buried in an unmarked grave in an abandoned cemetary. I don’t think he will ever win another major, let alone five, and I don’t think it is far outside the bounds of probability that he never wins another tournament again.

  2. I guess I still believe Tiger will become a force again. Not at the same level as he once was because no one will ever do that, but I truly believe he will break Nickalus’ record. He still has one eureka range moment left in him where his swing clicks into place and the shotmaking and confidence comes rushing back to him.

    Tiger will break that record.

  3. NMark W says:

    Why is Cher’s singing voice running continuously through my addled mind?!

    “If I could turn back time…”

  4. David says:

    Good blog, but there one difference between Tiger Woods and some of the other examples you cited…he plays Golf. More than any other major sport, golf allows for its competitors to thrive well into middle age. This is in large part due to the fact that golfers are not playing against others but against the course and themselves. And if there is one area in which Tiger really shines, it’s mental toughness. I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

  5. Mark Daniel says:

    What a great comparison – Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson. Both guys were unstoppable forces with super powers (seemingly). It’s hard to accept that those attributes could disappear suddenly and never come back. It goes against what we were led to believe by the media and by our own eyes.
    I still expect Tiger to return to his former glory and dominate the tour. If only he gets the mechanics of his new swing down…

  6. thrillho says:

    I sure hope baseball hurries up.

  7. Perks says:

    I was not ready for that post. Turning 39 on Saturday was tough… this just kick-started things a little faster for me.

  8. NMark W says:

    I think Tiger will win some more PGA events and maybe even another major or two but those times when he caused every other golfer in the world to stand in awe of the him are over. The young bucks entering pro golf now, many who were weened on Tiger’s many majors, are hardly in awe of him. Watch so many of these young guys now on tour and I think they’re thinking, “Hell, he’s 35 now, I’m 10 years younger and 20-40 yards longer and much straighter off the tee. This is my turn to win.”

  9. Jim says:

    I figure if Greg Norman can contend in a major in his fifties then Tiger can win in his fifties. I don’t know if he has enough in him to win five more majors but one or two more would not surprise me.

  10. chrisbid says:

    There is something tangible about having supreme confidence in one’s self. There have been studies that show athletes (and people in general) who lie to themselves about how much talent they have, perform better at their given skill. But like an egg shell, once that confidence of invincibility is broken, it cannot be restored. That is why youthful wunderkinds have difficulty becoming all time greats. Overcoming adversity and self-doubt can be doubly difficult for a phenom treated like royalty throughout their entire life.

  11. David in NYC says:

    True, true, true. Everything you say about Tiger, and aging, and the end of times for professional athletes — all of it is true. And if it isn’t already true for Tiger, it will be sooner or later.

    But what gets me is how utterly and completely everything collapsed, like it was really nothing more than a house of cards. While I can understand the getting-older body changes, and the (to me, almost completely unnecessary) swing changes, and the change in public perception, etc., I still think there is more going on, stuff that we don’t know and may never know.

    As a prime example of things we don’t and can’t know, I would cite Tiger’s physical condition. Obviously, nobody will every know except the two principals, but I think that Tiger was physically damaged by Elin in the Thanksgiving 2009 brouhaha, certainly far more than has been publicly announced. I kinda have to assume that, because…

    Because, otherwise, what we have is the athlete who was apparently mentally stronger than any other athlete in history (certainly more than any other in my lifetime, and I’m 60), the man who was told by his father — a Green Beret who trained him to be that way — that he would NEVER face anyone who was stronger MENTALLY than himself, the man who could almost literally will the ball into the hole…

    That man has now become the golf version of Steve Blass.

  12. Ed says:

    It’ll sure be fun when he hits his late 30s and early 40s and has the rare good run at a major and everyone goes crazy like when Jack made those runs occasionally in his 40s.

  13. Michael says:

    If Tiger would focus on winning one major per year, instead of trying to win every time out, I think he will get to Nicklaus’ record. I do think Tiger will adapt, like an old baseball pitcher, and learn how to play within his skill set to succeed against the field.

  14. Gil says:

    So, George. I’ll put you down as a “no” shall I?

  15. Daniel says:

    Odd that noone has mentioned performance enhancing drugs yet in these comments. There was always some suspicion about Woods. Perhaps the heat of the questions (or heat of Elin possibly ratting him out) led him to stop using. I could also see he sustaining much more physical damage during that fateful night than we have been led to believe. Maybe the whole “I am taking a break from golf to become a better person” was just a cover for a very long healing process. Quick, someone get a forensics person to comb over Tiger’s public apology video for any possible signs of significant injury!

  16. Paul Franz says:

    As someone who watches a fair amount of tennis, I have to disagree with you about Federer. That is, I firmly believe he won’t be a great player again; indeed, I’d be surprised if he wins another Major. But A LOT of people seem to think he’ll be 1-2 with Nadal for a while yet, that the gap between he and Nadal and everyone else is huge.

    Indeed, I would argue that, actually, sports fans as a whole are extremely likely to believe a player will stay great, despite all available evidence. Even though we know that greatness fades, teams give huge, 10-year contracts to players in their late 20s and fans rejoice over it. “Todd Helton will be great forever!” “Hooray for Carl Crawford!” “Sweet, LT is coming to the Jets!”

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re right on about Tiger. But I think, as one other BR mentions, that’s because he’s a golfer. Our desire – our need – to believe that greatness can last into and beyond ones 30s is all the stronger in a sport that seems (even though it isn’t) so easy to play, so much less physical than other sports. It’s not Tiger that makes so many believe, it’s golf.

  17. Robert says:

    Only Babe Ruth could clearly look done as a player and still manage to put up a 160 ops+ at age 39.

  18. oldstation says:

    I think the reason why everyone keeps (kept?) waiting for the return of the Tiger is because the fall was so sudden. Unitas lost his job in Baltimore to Earl Morrall before heading west to embarrass himself in San Diego. Ali was already a shell of his former self before Holmes beat him up. Mays was in decline prior to his awful time at Shea.

    But Tiger was the great golfer in history one day, and then the next day he just wasn’t. Same with Tyson. He was unbeatable. Then he was beaten, and that was it. No wonder we keep waiting for the real Tiger to come back; he barely went away.

    I agree with the poster above who suggested that the ones who decline that quickly do so for mental–rather than physical–reasons. Tiger no longer believes in himself, and the rest of the pros are no longer intimidated by him. Same thing happened to Tyson after Tokyo.

    Usually the legs go first. But sometimes it’s the head.

  19. Kansas City says:

    Golf is different. Watson had the British Open won as about age 60. Woods certainly will win some more tournaments. I doubt that he will win five more majors.

    I have never really understood the fascination with majors. It is basically just the same group of golfers as normal weeks plahing a different, harder, course. There are unexpected winners, the same as at other tournaments. Are majors really dominated to the “great” golfers more than other tournaments where they are playing?

    Tiger’s numbers during his great years cited by Joe suggest there is nothing special about Majors. He was 13/38 in Majors and 58/173 in all PGA events. That is almost identical – 34.2% versus 33.5%.

  20. Kansas City says:

    One other point about Ruth. He had a 160 OPS+ with 22 home runs in 471 plate appearances in 1934 and even had 6 home runs and a 118 OPS+ in 92 plate appearances in 1935.

    And he had the epic day of three home runs at Forbes Field a few days before he retired (including, I believe, the longest home run even at Forbes Field). He was 40 years old and out of shape (somehow, not expecting to have to play much, if at all), but he still managed to hit the ball better than his average contemporary. I don’t understand the sadness about his final year. He was not near the player he was a few years earlier, but he could still hit.

  21. Josh says:

    I love how after a piece all about how people expect Tiger Woods to do the impossible and turn back time…in the first three comments all three people say they believe Tiger will do it.

    I believe Tiger will contend for Majors again, and probably will even win 1 or 2 more. He’ll still be a serious force on the Tour for a number of years to come. But dominate like he did in the past? Rack up another 4 or 5 Majors? I don’t see it.

    At his peak, Tiger had the advantage of being the best conditioned player on the Tour (remember, back when he started his roll nobody conditioned like Tiger…now it’s fairly common). He had the aura of invincibility around him that added mental pressure on every opponent who walked down the final 18 with him. And now that aura’s gone. People know that Tiger can be beaten. Injuries are piling up on him like they do ordinary golfers of his age.

    He’s still great. No one is denying it. But there are younger guys coming for him and they can do the things that he used to be able to do…and now he can’t always manage it.

  22. NMark W says:

    Here’s more about Babe Ruth’s epic day (May 25, 1935) @ Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field in his final playing days as a Boston Brave. The Babe had already hit 2 HRs that day and then his 3rd and final career HR (#714!) was launched over the roof above the double-decked right field stands. He was the first player to achieve the feat. (The original stadium opened in 1909 but I believe the rightfield stands were not added until the mid 1920s. The roof was 86 feet above the playing field and fair territory spanned from 300′ down the line and then jutted out quickly to 375′ near straight away rightfield.) Only nine other MLB players ever hit a HR that cleared that roof. Mickey Mantle did it batting left-handed in the 1960 WS and Willie Stargell did it 7 times during the 1960s before old Forbes was abandoned for the putrid and plastic but new Three Rivers Stadium in July, 1970.
    As I recall, Ruth retired about a week later and some conjectured that Babe’s incredible day in Pittsburgh had taken its toll and quickened his retirement. Perhaps he just realized that he would never ever again have a hitting day like he had just had in Pittsburgh so why not call it quits? I’m sure few folks, if any, ever considered how hallowed the #714 would become in MLB lore. So, if he did hit only 6 HRs that final partial season with the Braves, half of them came on that one day in Pittsburgh.

  23. LoCoDe says:

    Joe, sadly I have to say that since you don’t really “get” golf, it would be nice if you didn’t write about it.

    You can’t compare Tiger Woods to athletes in other sports. And you can’t write a guy off after his first tournament of the season.

    And his dominance is far unlike any dominance by any other golfer.

    Consider this stat.

    Tiger has won over 94 million dollars. #2 on the list is Vijay Singh, with over 63 million. Phil has just over 60 million. BOTH those guys have been pros longer than Tiger. And Tiger leads Vijay by 31 million.

    A golfer with 31 million dollars would currently rank #9 all time on the money list.

    So yeah, Tiger has already had a whole other career’s worth of amazing golf, and he’ll still have more. He’s as unique as they come, and comparing him to any other athlete is impossible.

  24. Jon says:

    Joe, seriously…

    “The house has built cities on the backs of naive souls who bet against time.”

    Might be the best line I’ve ever read in a sports column.

  25. Curtis Ruder says:

    LoCoDe,

    You are wrong on so many levels it is startling. The career money list is a staggeringly poor method for predicting future performance. According to it, Arnold Palmer is not the best Palmer in golf history. By using the career earnings list, you are basically limiting the discussion to the last fifteen years.

    Second, I don’t think anyone is denying what Tiger has done and the staggering brilliance of it all. Search Joe’s site for an article called “I knew he would make that putt” from a couple of years ago.

    You can, in fact, compare Tiger Woods to athletes in other sports. And Joe at least has not written him off. He has an entire paragraph talking about what he could do. Just that it isn’t likely.

    Finally, I believe I speak for many of the readers when I say that we want Joe to write about whatever he wants to write about and don’t really give a darn about your opinion on it.

  26. Marshall says:

    LoCoDe, you can compare anything to anything, apples to oranges, rocks to dolphins, alpha to omega. It can be harder in some cases, but using inflated dollars to make your case doesn’t cut it.

    One point about Ali–it was widely thought he would be done after his forced retirement. It was reinforced when Frazier beat him. Time did eventually get him, but Ali had a rare “second act.”

  27. Frank says:

    As I read the list of athletes in various sports whose careers were ebbed away by the tides of time, there was one name conspicuously absent: Barry Bonds. Here was a man who defied age and had his best years after age 35. In 2000 when the “All Century” team was being selected, Griffey was chosen over Bonds (as representative of the 1990’s). At that point in his career, he had the stats of a probable Hall of Famer.

    By now, we all know Bonds turned back the clock by means of a needle. The age-defying aspect of Bonds’ accomplishments make them seem all the more artificial. It was not normal – 99% of all other great athletes across time and across various sports (as chronicled by Joe) declined after reaching their mid-30’s.

    The artificiality of the latter part of Bonds’ career is what earmarks the Steroid Era, and it affects the perception of all the other players caught up in the scandal. It is why all of them face an uphill battle for the Hall of Fame.

  28. David in NYC says:

    @Daniel —

    Nobody has mentioned PEDs in talking about Tiger because there is absolutely ZERO evidence that he has taken them. There is not even a conversation on the topic, not even whispers of speculation from unidentified sources. Furthermore, Tiger has practically demanded that the PGA institute random drug testing since he turned pro.

    Unless you can back up your baseless and ludicrous speculation with something resembling facts, I would suggest you leave that nonsense out of here.

  29. NMark W says:

    This is not original to me, in fact, maybe I read it from another BR on Joe’s blog but since someone had to bring up golf’s money earnings list we have this:

    “Who is currently professional golf’s 2nd leading money winner?

    Wait for it…

    Elin Nordegren

  30. Mode says:

    I think there is one thing about this that is being left out of the conversation. People are fans of these atheletes. Those that are Tiger Woods fans are more apt to find reasons why he will fully rebound. Those that don’t like Tiger will find reasons to believe he will never win another Major. You can’t overlook the power of fandom when it comes to individuals predicting future results.

  31. dtro says:

    Ugh, why did that brilliant opening have to be wasted on a golf story?

  32. nedarby says:

    It will be absolutely fascinating to watch if Tiger Woods goes on an extended non-winning streak. Just how will one of the most dominant, arrogant, and self-absorbed athletes of our generation respond to a prolonged period of not winning? Will he swallow his pride and start to enter run-of-the-mill PGA tourneys that he considers not worthy of his time or skill level? Or instead will he just drive off into the sunset? And what long-term impact would Tiger’s competitive irrelevance and/or retirement have on PGA Tour corporate sponsorship, viewership, and prize money?

  33. ry.live says:

    I agree with nerdaby’s post above. Tiger’s only likable personality trait was that he was a winner. Everyone who cheered for Tiger can’t let that go because they have nothing else left to root for. I think the same is true of Tyson. Despicable human but an amazing champion so people hung onto the one quality that they could admire in the man for far to long.

  34. Daniel says:

    Hey David in NYC, the most outspoken in baseball for drug testing were some of the users. And yes Tiger has been linked to a doctor that was heavily involved in doping and PED so it is surprising to me that noone mentioned it.

  35. James says:

    It seems like Joe P. is forecasting a second act for Tiger that’s comparable to John McEnroe’s career after he took a 6-month sabbatical. Prior to that he’d won 7 major championships in about 5 years. After that, I don’t think he ever even reached another grand slam final. Something was gone.

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