After the Masters, What's Next for Tiger Woods?

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods hits a shot during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Tiger Woods played his first public practice round yesterday, he sat and answered question from the media for 34 minutes, and he will compete in this week’s Masters.

That is all known fact.

Woods’ future, on the other hand, is a sea of uncertainty.

Win, contend, miss the cut, or withdraw, what will be next for Woods after the conclusion of the 2010 Masters?

Will he return to his normal schedule, which would likely mean an appearance at the Quail Hollow Championship in three weeks? Will he take things one week at a time as he attempts to repair his marriage? Or will he turn into a modern day version of the post-accident Ben Hogan?

In 1949, right smack in the middle of his prime, Hogan was involved in a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus while driving with his wife, Valerie, just east of Van Horn, Texas.

Hogan, who was 36 at the time of his accident, suffered a double-fracture of the pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a left ankle fracture, a chipped rib, and near-fatal blood clots.  He was also left with lifelong circulation problems that made getting out of bed a challenge, let alone walking 72 holes of golf.

From 1949 through the remainder of his career, Hogan played a very limited schedule.

This was partly due to his injuries and partly due to the fact that Hogan became increasingly reclusive during the second half of his career.

If you think Woods is secretive and reclusive, well, then you probably don’t know too much about Ben Hogan.

Hogan was the Wizard of Oz. Only very few people ever saw the man behind the curtain, and it’s debatable whether anyone truly knew the man behind the curtain.

There were some years where Hogan played the U.S. Open in July and didn’t reappear until the following April at the Masters.

Aside from the Masters and the U.S. Open, Hogan played very few other golf tournaments each year. He only played in one British Open in 1953, which he won, and did not play in another PGA Championship until it was changed to a 72-hole, stroke-play event in 1960.

Despite playing very few events, Hogan still managed to win another six major championships between the years of 1950 and 1953.

Hogan, like Woods, was nothing short of fanatical about the game of golf and his preparation for the major championships.

Just because Hogan wasn’t playing in 15-20 events per year like his peers, it didn’t mean that Hogan wasn’t spending eight hours per day pounding golf balls in the Texas heat.

It’s no secret that Woods’ sole concern as it pertains to golf is the No. 19.

Woods’ entire career, and life for that matter, has been molded around breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championship victories.

Woods has had four knee surgeries, two stress fractures in his left leg, and as we found out during his press conference yesterday afternoon, a torn Achilles tendon.

Even if Woods were not to become more reclusive during the second half of his career, he may be forced to play a limited schedule to keep his body fresh for the major championships.

His sponsor’s may not like it, his peers may have to start flying commercial and Tim Finchem might suffer a full blown mental breakdown. But if Woods feels as if his best chance to break Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, while also staying healthy and being a better husband and father, is to play only eight events per year, you can be assured that is the schedule he will be pursuing.

Tiger Woods may not be as nervous as you think come Thursday.

Want to know why? Check out The Tour Report to find out.

For analysis on Tiger Woods' press conference, check out The Tour Report's Monday Backspin Blog.