Tiger’s bargain of health for competition is sad but he can’t/won’t stop

Ronan MacNamara

Tiger Woods via Masters Media

The Tiger Slam, the chip in on 16 in 2005, the putt at the 2008 US Open, the comeback, the comeback after that and the comeback after that. And of course, the 2019 Masters win.

Tiger Woods has thrilled golf fans around the world with a catalogue of memories and never to be seen again moments but now he is a shell of his former self.

Legend has it that Woods won the 08 US Open at Torrey Pines on one leg, now he definitely is on one leg and his irons are acting as a walking stick to take the pressure off that right leg.


Tiger’s will to win and competitive spirit is rivalled by nobody. Not even almost losing his right leg in a car crash was going to stop him from returning to climb the mountain again.

But one has to wonder how much longer he can keep bargaining his health for competition?

The fact is, Tiger is not competing, he is playing and he isn’t playing to win.

The 2023 Masters is yet to get off the ground. It has simmered on the boil but torrential rain has scuppered any tournament momentum. A feel good moment was Tiger making the cut on Saturday following an overnight suspension of play.

But was it worth it? God damn you Justin Thomas and your late bogey.

A difficult walk for Tiger at the best of times, but the more rain that pounds the Augusta fairways the more his ‘limp’ turns into a shuffle. It’s becoming hard to watch the 15-time major champion, there has been no kick this week.

I expected a courageous under par first round but by Thursday that limp had become more pronounced since his first sighting at Riviera.

Holes 14 to 16 on Saturday were a painful watch and while no mercy was given from Mother Nature, the merciful siren put a stop to what was becoming a very, very sad scene.

Unable to turn through on the downswing, Woods was producing shots you would see in your local monthly medal, leaning on his club for balance as his golf ball no longer went where he wanted it to.

Tiger roars have turned into sympathetic cheers of encouragement as he stoops down in glacial fashion to pick the ball from the hole.

The weather delays haven’t helped and Woods faces the prospect of a 29-hole Sunday which in all honesty, will be excruciating viewing.

Tiger is Tiger and he will forever get fans through the turnstiles and bums on seats at home, but the magic is quickly fading. It wouldn’t be Masters Sunday without Tiger but playing all four rounds is the height of his ambition rather than driving up Magnolia Lane on the final day competing to win.

Woods won’t quit and his desire and will to go through the pain barrier is admirable, but since that car crash comments of ‘wow only Tiger can hit that shot,’ ‘what a shot,’ ‘the absolute goat,’ have been replaced by ‘god help him,’ ‘that poor man’ and ‘look at how much pain he’s in.’

A handful of past champions base their year around making the cut at Augusta. Is it time for Tiger to face up to that harsh reality of this is where his ceiling is?

Yesterday’s attire was representative of where he is at. Clad in black, saturated, beaten down. His caddie Joe La Cava handing him golf club after golf club as if to say ‘you have to keep playing’ and Tiger, whose competitive stubbornness makes him a glutton for punishment, obliged.

Tiger will wear his famous Sunday red. Usually a sight that would strike fear into his competitors, but now it is a token of what once was.


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