Monday, June 27, 2016

Tiger at sunset

So, yeah, OK, Tiger Woods may not be finished. But he sure can see it from here.

This upon the news that, at a news conference last week, he was asked if he saw himself playing any PGA Tour events this year. His answer, pretty much, was an unequivocal "Beats me."

"I'm just playing it week to week, and I keep getting better," he said. "I keep getting physically better. I just hope that everything clicks in and I can do it sooner rather than later.''

Which means, if we haven't the last of him, we've seen all but the last of him. He's a 40-year-old man who's had three back surgeries in two years. This does not bode well for future Tiger-like exploits on the golf course. And it certainly closes the book on his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' 18  majors, which in truth has been over for awhile now.

What we'll get instead from Tiger, if we get anything, is a wistful auld lang syne, one last walk up a metaphoric 18th fairway as the sun sets and the gallery's applause washes over him. No matter how carefully he's managing his preparation to play again, after all, the likelihood he'll eventually have more back issues is much greater than the likelihood he won't. Golf, especially championship golf, is hell on a lot of the body's moving parts, but it's especially hell on the back. And so it's no surprise that golfers who experience back issues continue to experience them.

Which raises the question: Have we seen the last of Tiger as a PGA Tour winner?

My money's on "yes." And that's OK, because, despite the continuing media obsession with him, the Tour has moved on without him. His era is so thoroughly and demonstrably over that it's not even like he's a ghost haunting the place. He's just some guy with a bad back hoping to get well enough to take that aforementioned sunset walk. The game belongs to others now, to Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler and Lee Westwood.

Time waits for no man. Stop the presses.

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