Woods says he’ll do everything he can, which in his case is to do nothing at all and hope his miseries mend, to come to the Washington area from June 16 to 19. What could be more important? The rest of his career could be a lot more important — at least to him.
Only Woods knows how his body feels or how fast he’s healed. His pain threshold is legendarily high. So he could fool himself. But you know he’s hurting when he admits it to Jack Nicklaus. “Tiger called me” on May 27th, Nicklaus said this week. “He said, ‘I’m still hobbling, and I don’t know whether I’m going to make the U.S. Open or not.’ ”
Even in the best case, Woods just began to rehab idle muscles that he calls “atrophied.” Then he must start working on his golf game again — you know, the sport he’s barely played since he reinjured his chronically bad left leg at the Masters two months ago.
Let’s see: Get injured in April, take the rest cure, rush back, aggravate it in May at The Players Championship, where you withdraw after a 42 for nine holes. Then, after walking to the parking lot looking 90 years old, you’re going to flog yourself to play the Open?
We all saw Woods win the ’08 U.S. Open on a stress-fractured leg with a knee that needed total reconstruction. Once he’s in the hunt, he will never back off. If he comes to Bethesda and somehow plays as well as he did at the Masters, where he finished fourth, he’ll tough it out. And, since it’s not our leg, we’ll enjoy it. Ken Venturi might get mentioned.
But, deep down, is such a long shot worth it? Or is this guy out of his golf mind?
If Woods takes care of everything that’s wrong with him — knee, Achilles’, calf, swing, putting, lost mystique, temper, therapy, personal life (don’t even go there) and the final touches on his new $50 million bachelor home with the personal practice course — and gets most of it right, he might have another 10 years when his golf could make him happy.
It would probably make a lot of other people happy, too. Who enjoys watching the most famous athlete on earth (three years ago) turn into No. 12 in the world and falling?
But Tiger better think about Tiger, not about us. What’s it like to have no game left before you’re 40? It happened to the late Seve Ballesteros because of his back. It can happen to Woods.
If he messes up his elite body badly again — perhaps the leg, but maybe something else while compensating — how many pitched-battle comebacks can he mount in one lifetime? Has Woods ever done anything spectacularly self-destructive? Have a care.