Tiger Woods hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in nearly a year. He hasn’t played in a major in more than two. And he hasn’t won a major in nearly a decade. He’s transitioning into an Obi-Wan role for today’s younger players, and to hear him discuss it on Wednesday prior to the Presidents Cup, he’s accepting that role…one which might become permanent.
When asked if he could foresee a scenario where he doesn’t return to competitive golf at all, Woods replied, “Yeah, definitely. I don’t know what my future holds for me.”
It was a startlingly honest admission from a guy who’s spent an entire career keeping his true feelings at driver’s length; he could show up to a tournament on crutches and say he still expected to win. But the concession that he might not ever play competitive golf again is, most likely, a healthy one … giving Woods the opportunity to rehab without the pressure of failure.
Late last week, Woods, who has undergone substantial neck and back surgery in recent years, offered up an update to his health on his webpage. “I’m feeling good, strong and doing really well,” he wrote. “About my most recent surgery, it’s nice not to live in pain anymore. I’m sleeping better because I don’t have any nerve pain going down my leg. It makes a world of difference.” Woods indicated he’s hitting 60-yard chips, which is nice but not exactly what a professional golfer needs to be hitting.
Regardless, Woods is putting on a public face of contentment with his elder statesman role, and younger players like Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth readily acknowledge his influence. If his career as a golfer is over and his career as a mentor is beginning, there are worse fates.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.