The golf universe is still rejoicing over Rory McIlroy and has proclaimed him the next icon of the sport. The endless throng of humanity gathered in the gallery to watch him put it all together and win that first major championship.
The strangest aspect of the weekend was that no one missed a competitive Tiger Woods being in the hunt for this major championship. His withdrawal from U.S. Open didn’t even register a blip on the radar. And for that, it’s time for him to take an extended leave away from golf.
Sometimes, you need to step back before you can move forward. At 35, Tiger will have two deterrents that could stand in his way to compete at a high level.
First, he must repair his left knee and Achilles before returning to the golf course. And the second is answering a challenge from a floppy-haired kid from Northern Ireland, who won the Open title in a very “Tiger-esque” fashion. His fluid swing will allow him to be in the conversation of winning multiple majors for many years to come.
Three years ago seems like an eternity when Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He was a golfer that had no equal on the course. And then his life began to crumble all around him.
For the next 18 months, Tiger lived his life in front of a camera, as it began with the unexplained car crash, the parade of extramarital affairs, going to sexual rehab, making a public apology and finally ending with his divorce. His only solitude came on the golf course, but that ended quickly as the pressure to catch Jack Nicklaus began to affect his play.
The fans need to forget Tiger, so he can revel as an underdog.
Others in sports have benefited from this circumstance, Nicklaus in the mid-'80s and Wayne Gretzky with the rise of Mario Lemieux in hockey.
Unfortunately, the fans won’t allow him to reach that status due to his past indiscretions. We’re always looking for “the next” LeBron, Peyton and now Tiger, but sometimes, they come few and far between.
During the height of his supremacy, Woods ruled golf with a golden driver. Now, he must show the golf world the “real” Eldrick Woods, a man who simply wants to win a tournament.