Tiger Woods' latest announcement exudes nothing but continued sadness
Woods cannot even attend his own press conference at Riviera
I believe only a few things about Tiger Woods.
I believe that, for a period of time, he was the most magnificent golfer to ever pick up a club. I believe that, for most of his career, he had the widest variety of golf shots of anyone in the history of the sport. I believe that his amateur career is underrated.
I believe that he could make the cut at Augusta in a wheelchair. I believe that his Scotty Cameron is the greatest weapon we’ve seen since Alexander the Great drove his sword directly into the Persian Empire and then throughout Asia Minor.
And I believe that Tiger Woods cares deeply about the Tiger Woods Foundation.
This does not mean I am right. This is just what I believe. And it is that last point where we must begin today. Woods unironically withdrew from a press conference at the Genesis Open on Tuesday evening when his agent Mark Steinberg announced that Tiger “has again been advised by doctors to limit all activities.”
What does this have to do with the Tiger Woods Foundation? Well, the Genesis Open is being hosted by Woods’ foundation this week. Woods has always been fond of a foundation that aims to raise eight figures a year to provide scholarships and help kids succeed in life through education. He has even given the money he earns at events associated with his foundation right back to it. That total is well over $12 million now and probably closer to $15 million.
“Golf is just what I do,” said Woods of the foundation recently. “It’s just an expression of me. But what I try and do for kids will outlive me and hopefully people will never remember what I did on the golf course. Hopefully, they will remember that this name is synonymous with education, betterment and safety.”
In its first year of hosting the Genesis Open Woods would presumably try to draw as much attention to the event and the organization as possible. Instead? He won’t even be there because of his back spasms.
“Him being in a rest position is the most important thing right now,” Steinberg told ESPN on Tuesday. “He flew out here fairly comfortably, and he did that because he cares about the tournament, Hyundai and his foundation. He wanted to give it his best effort, because the spams have not completely calmed down. He is hoping he can get to a point soon where that is alleviated.’’
Steinberg added that Woods is not expected to have any involvement in the tournament throughout the week.
This is stunning, although maybe it shouldn’t be. Back spasms that last two weeks and are so bad Woods can’t even show up to walk around, answer some questions and take some photos? That is ... interesting.
And Woods’ comeback from three back surgeries since 2014 has been many things. After playing in the Hero World Challenge in December, a successful return seemed hopeful. After missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, his comeback became a little more sober. And after withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago, it became excruciating.
To watch a broken body house a once-vivacious (but maybe currently busted) competitive spirit was difficult. We don’t know how this ends, of course, but not showing up to your tournament hosted by the foundation that you have given millions of your own dollars to and clearly means something to you is not the best harbinger.
Maybe this is a temporary setback for Woods, but that seems naively optimistic at best. Maybe Woods plays again this season. Maybe he goes on to play for five or 10 more years. Maybe he wins the Masters at some point. His comeback has already been so fraught with superlatives and a spectrum of adjectives normally reserved for complex international diplomacy, not golf.
The prevailing theme this week, though, as Woods begrudingly ejected on his appearance at Riviera Country Club and abdicated his reign over the tournament that sent him into the stratosphere because he may or may not be able to sit down is this:
Profound, unrelenting sadness over what has become of one of the greatest of all time..
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