Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Future of Tiger Woods

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places." Hemingway’s observation is insightful but not always true , especially when considered in a literal sense. This is the thought that came to me after it was disclosed that Tiger Woods would have a season-ending knee surgery following his epic U.S. Open victory. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last April and after the five-day, 91 holes of grueling and painful golf at the U.S. Open this month, he couldn’t continue playing without causing permanent injury to his leg. Given his fierce competitiveness and single-minded pursuit of excellence, the end of the 2008 season must have caused him as much mental anguish as his left knee caused him physical pain.

The compelling question is: Can Woods break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships? With 14 championships under his belt already, the answer may have seemed obvious (yes!) but that was before the the fragile state of his left knee became known. Now it has become a more pertinent question and the shadow of doubt has crept in.

This is what I think will happen. Woods will adjust his game to accommodate whatever toll surgery takes on his knee and that will still be good enough to beat the rest of the world’s golfers. He will win 6 more championships to bring his total to the nice round number of 20 and then he will be forced to retire because his leg will just not be able to hold up any longer. This will only underscore his status as the best golfer to have played the game. There will always be that ‘what if’ scenario to excite the imagination whenever the name Tiger Woods comes up, but that will only serve to keep his legend alive for decades to come.

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