Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

IPPOLITO: Time’s Up For Tiger Woods

Sports, much like the animal kingdom, are Darwinian in nature. The old guard always gives way to the next generation; the only question is how long it will take Father Time to complete this natural cycle.

While the all-time greats will be eternally remembered, there is still nothing sadder than witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime athlete struggle through the final years of his career.

Such is the case of Tiger Woods. He is easily the greatest golfer of our generation and brought golf to heights it had never reached, but now is the time for Woods to seriously consider retirement.

Currently, Tiger is suffering from yet another back injury. The latest aggravation occurred last week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., and Woods had to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open after just 11 holes.

Two weeks ago, Woods was atrocious in his first two rounds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., and his last round there was a career-worst 82 — only the second time Woods has shot 80 or higher as a professional. Consequently, he is taking an indefinite leave of absence in order to properly heal.

The back injuries should not be a surprise; he endured three last year and also has a recent history of problems with his left knee and Achilles tendon. Since winning the 2008 U.S. Open, his last major victory, Woods has sustained a combined 10 injuries to his back, elbow and left knee.

As cliche as it sounds, constant injuries, especially to vital areas like the knees and the back, usually force an athlete into retirement. Woods’ inability to maintain the physical stamina necessary to complete tournaments is probably having psychological effects. Some, like noted swing coach Butch Harmon, feel that Woods’ swing could provide some explanation for the injuries.

Tiger is known to have one of the hardest, most vicious swings in golf — one fellow golfer speculated that the amount of torque Woods’ back generates during his swing is the cause of the harm, and many believe he actually spent too much time working out and not enough time resting after his previous injuries.

Sean Foley, Tiger’s former coach, also receives much of the blame as he encouraged Woods to change the swing that won 71 of his 79 career wins and all of his 14 majors in hopes of acquiring the “perfect swing.”

Any discussion of Tiger Woods will inevitably bring up his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major tournament victories. In 2015, we can almost definitively say Woods will never eclipse 18 major wins; it would be a miracle if he even got his 15th. This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, considering Woods earned his 14th major win at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with a heroic and essentially one-legged performance. It was Tiger at his most fierce, but recently, aside from a brief hot streak in 2013 in which he won three golf invitationals between January and March, Woods has rarely been his old self, especially at the world’s biggest and most important tournaments.

After Michael Jordan retired in January 1999, Tiger Woods became the most feared athlete in all of sports. You did not have to like him — many did not — but his sustained dominance earned him unparalleled respect. Tiger’s famous Sunday red was the sign that he was out for blood, and rarely did his prey escape him.

For over a decade, if Woods was atop the leaderboard after the third round, his victory was almost guaranteed. He was victorious 53 out of 57 times when holding at least a share of the lead after three rounds. Now, fans just hope that Tiger can make the cut.

Is there a chance that, if given the necessary time to heal, Woods can continue to contend? Sure, there are still probably few people on the planet as competitive as Tiger Woods, but with young stars like Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler establishing themselves as the perennial contenders of the next generation, Woods may struggle to reclaim his former glory.

One of the hardest things a great athlete must do is decide when to stop. It took Brett Favre and Michael Jordan multiple retirement attempts, and it is something Kobe Bryant is currently struggling with now. Woods has done too much, won too much and meant too much to sports and the game of golf to go out like this. Now, with an increasingly fragile body and mental state, Woods must act before time does any further damage to himself and his legacy.

Michael Ippolito is a sophomore in the College. THE WATER COOLER appears every Friday.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *