By Mark Wilson
February 8, 2015

73-82. WD.

If you looked at that and someone told you that was a golfer’s first two weeks in 2015 on the PGA Tour, you’d swear it was some duffer right out of Qualifying School.

Maybe a young man, barely 20, on the local college golf team. Or, a teenager with an exemption.

No way do you believe… its Tiger Woods.


Claiming that his “glutes weren’t activating therefore tightening up his back to the point of painful,” Woods withdrew from his latest golf odyssey, The Farmers Insurance Open.

This came on the heels of his disastrous ’15 start in Scottsdale, Arizona where he finished tied for the bottom after that previously mentioned 73-82. Woods wasn’t close to the cut line so he wasn’t around for the weekend.

Cut in Arizona… withdrew in California.

King Tut.

It just sounded like the hilarious Steve Martin parody song from way back when.

For Tiger, there is nothing funny about it.

This is his life and livelihood.

What adds to the pain is that the two courses he’s played are two of his favorites on tour.

Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California may in fact BE his all time favorite non-major layout. Both courses at T.P. suit his game; north and south.

He’s won that tournament SEVEN times including 2013.

Just TWO years ago he was the champion.

Now… he’s a WD.

Stroking at plus-2 on his 12th hole opening round Thursday, Woods had enough. He picked up his ball and withdrew. He gave the line about his glutes and back for 90 seconds to reporters and booked.

Hasta Luigi; he gone.

Adios, amigos. Outta here.

At least last week at TPC Scottsdale, he hacked it out for 36 holes before checking the leaderboard and seeing his name right next to the legend that is Michael Hopper.

Hopper shot 81-74.

He had a better Friday than Woods by EIGHT shots.

Both tied at 155. Dead freakin’ last.

Woods said he went home and worked on his chipping and other parts of his game that were just north of horrendous. He never once said that any old injuries were flaring up.

At age 39, it doesn’t take much for a flare.

I know it’s still hard to fathom that Eldrick Woods is heading to his 40th birthday.

We always love it when older golfers can “shoot their age.”

Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and the late Billy Casper have all reputedly “shot their age” at various events. Of course, those guys were pushing 70.

Tom Watson, who is 65, is coming close to shooting his age.

If we talk about Woods shooting his age, it would be for nine holes.

And that is NOT a good thing.

Last week in Arizona, while a Super Bowl was in full swing, Tiger’s swing was being analyzed and criticized by fans and golf pundits alike.

Brandel Chamblee on the Golf Channel said, “Tiger isn’t struggling, he is incapable.”

Chamblee alluded to the fact that Tiger was physically incapable of completing certain routine golf shots.

Thus the 73-82.

What has compounded Woods early season failures is that 2014 was by far his worst as a professional.

He appeared in only seven events, won none and made a paltry $108,275.

Sure, most of us would take that and run to the bank.

For Tiger; 108-grand is the poorhouse.

His previous money low was in 2011 when injuries limited him to nine events and $660,238.

660 is a whole lot better than 108.

2011 is also the last time he failed to win at least one tourney.

He bounced back in 2012-13 to pile up EIGHT victories in 35 starts. He made more than $14 million; tops amongst all golfers on tour.

The only reason he wasn’t more revered for those eight wins?

He didn’t win a major.

Woods can win all the AT&T’s, Cadillac’s, Palmer’s he wants but if the Masters, US Open, British or PGA aren’t in there? It’s as if he did NOTHING.

Six full seasons have gone by since Tiger won a major.

It was 2008 and he defeated Rocco Mediate in a playoff to grab his third U.S. Open and 14th major golf championship.

28 opportunities have presented themselves and Woods has fanned in all 28.

Oh, he’s finished top ten NINE times in a major since that last Open title but no dice. He was second at the PGA in 2009.

Ah yes, 2009.

Remember how giddy everyone in Michigan was when Woods agreed to play in the final Buick Open ever?

“Thanks for coming, Tiger!” was chanted all week long at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc.

All he did was reward the fans outside Flint with his third all-time victory in the Buick.

When I asked him how he felt about the adulation that week he said, “It’s always great coming here. I love the fans. They know their golf and make us feel as welcome as anywhere on the circuit.”

Nine times Woods came to Grand Blanc.

Sure, Buick was a sponsor and part of the agreement was to play in a certain number of the various Buick events which used to number four per season.

However, he could have skipped Michigan but chose not too. Tiger always said it was a nice tune-up for the next major because it was a tough but fair challenge. Warwick allowed for good scores.

Robert Wrenn (don’t bother asking) set the record at Warwick shooting 26-under par. It was the ONLY tournament Wrenn won as a pro.

Just a few months after Woods won in 2009 came the infamous Thanksgiving night end to his marriage.

The golf club went through the window of his SUV and it changed his life forever.

His then-wife Elin had found out about his cheating ways with a bevy of beauties from all walks of life and in a matter of one bad evening, the world turned on the best golfer alive.

Social media was just becoming a big deal and it was riddled with jokes, innuendoes and rumors about Woods’ philandering.

Rachel Uchitel became part of our daily lexicon.

On a side note, I saw her close up in Las Vegas a few years ago and she is a looker; I give her that.

Is it a coincidence that the bulk of Tiger’s golfing woes have come SINCE the incident?

Probably not.

He took a huge tumble and his entire life paid the price.

Woods lost most of his endorsements, lost his wife who had custody of his children and lost a lot of his ability to focus.

His father had passed away three years prior but he was able to overcome that grief.

Toss in the injuries and you’ve got a guy who went from the top of the sporting world… to a comedic punch line.

From 1992, when he first appeared in a PGA event, through 2009, Tiger was forced to withdraw from a tournament just three times.

Three times in 18 years.

From 2010 through Thursday of this 2015, he’s WD’d six times.

Six times in less than six years.

Twice as many withdrawals in a third of the time.

It speaks volumes.

There is no doubt his body has broken down. Whether it’s because there were steroids in his past and now they aren’t due to more rigorous testing on the PGA Tour or any other reason doesn’t matter.

At 39, he has become a mere mortal.

The super human feats we’ve watched him accomplish over the years simply don’t happen anymore.

Even his five victories in 2013 seem pedestrian.

Hell, Jimmy Walker has won four times in just over a calendar year and no one is talking about him in iconic terms.

Jimmy Walker ain’t Tiger.

Then again, no one is.

Which brings up another problem.

The PGA Tour STILL relies on Woods to be its star. Be he good or be he bad, Tiger still rules.

Only Woods has a dedicated “tracker” on Twitter.

There is no Walker tracker or Jordan Spieth tracker or even a Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy tracker.

“Tiger Tracker” on Twitter. That’s it.

Television numbers plummet when Woods either doesn’t play or gets cut or WD’s. If Tiger isn’t at least on the course for a weekend, interest in the tour wanes.

Let me re-phrase that. Interest doesn’t just wane… it falls off the face of the planet.

Mickelson has a good following especially in majors, but it doesn’t come close to Tiger. Phil doesn’t stoke the embers of excitement to make it “must-see TV.”


Oh, I don’t know.

I don’t believe Rory can sustain for an American golfing audience.

He’s from Northern Ireland and will always play for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. He rarely shows up for lesser events.

You think McIlroy would have come to Flint even once for the Buick Open?

Hell no.

Phil stopped coming to Warwick Hills many moons before the tournament moved to West Virginia in 2010 but at least he came every so often prior to that.

Rory wouldn’t have bothered.

No European player has really caught the imagination of the American audience with the possible exception of Seve Ballesteros.

Greg Norman held court for Australia and is still a decent sized name in the USA. Adam Scott is trying to get there now and helped his cause by attending college in Las Vegas at UNLV.

Chi Chi Rodriguez was popular but technically he was American having been born in Puerto Rico.

And PLEASE don’t count Lee Trevino.

Sure, his nickname was “Super Mex” but he was born in Dallas.

I think I’ve had to correct a hundred people over the years who believe Trevino was actually FROM Mexico.

Lee is of Mexican descent but he is “Pure Texas” folks.

Yeee haaawww!

Woods has BEEN the PGA Tour since his first full foray in 1996.

20 years is a long time to dominate anything.

Very few athletes PLAY 20 years much less dominate. Woods found a way to stay on top even with all the hiccups in the past half decade.

The one amazing thing about Tiger’s run is how few have followed.

What I mean is how few African American golfers have scurried to the tour trying to take his place.

On the radio back in 1997, I orated how I believed the tour could one day be 30 or 40 percent black. Heck, maybe HALF the tour would be black.

Look at it now.

Not ONE additional black golfer.


Prior to Tiger, there were many competent African Americans in tournaments week in and week out.

Detroit’s very own Calvin Peete once led the PGA Tour on the money list.

Lee Elder was the first to compete in a Masters back in 1974.

Jim Dent, Charlie Sifford, Walt Morgan and Jim Thorpe all fared well as a pro.

Sifford just passed away at the age of 92.

In 1961, Sifford broke the color barrier in golf. Despite threats to his life, Sifford played and won the 1957 Long Beach Open which paved the way to his acceptance four years later.

Six years after his official tour debut, Charlie triumphed in the Greater Hartford Open. He won in Los Angeles in 1969.

Those were his only two tour victories.

Even though they were two official money events, Sifford was denied a chance to play in the Masters.

There is a story that he was leading on the final day of the Canadian Open. With four holes to go, a communiqué was released by Telegram from the Masters people “decertifying” the Canadian from being an automatic qualifier into Augusta National.

Sifford ended up not winning and magically the Canadian Open was “re-certified” to allow the winner his entry to the Masters.

Finally, the Masters had to relent in ’74.

Elder won the Monsanto Open and the Masters had no choice but to allow Lee to play at Augusta.

He missed the cut, but he played.

Elder went on to win three more times on tour.

Woods wasn’t the first black golfer but so far, he seems to be the last.

Maybe it’s because of his mixed background that the black community doesn’t rally behind Tiger.

For whatever reason, young African American kids didn’t take up golf like I thought they would. Yes, it’s a tough expensive game to be involved with. There are plenty of other things to do. But, not ONE other has followed Tiger to the tour in two decades?

It’s shocking to me.

Where Woods goes from here is an imponderable.

If he is hurt, he needs more time off. If he has lost his way, he needs more practice.

He is 11 years away from the senior Champions Tour so he can’t be looking forward to that.

Golf at the pro level is kind of funny.

Back in 1973, Palmer easily won the Bob Hope Desert Classic (now the Clinton Humana tournament).

Arnie was 43 then and I remember watching as a teenager thinking that Palmer would win many more times in his 40’s.

Mr. P seemed to be at the top of his game again and looking good.

He never won again.

When Jack snatched the 1986 Masters for his 18th major championship he was also at the top of his game.

At 46, Nicklaus seemed ageless.

Without a doubt, Jack would win on tour many more times before joining the older 50-plus set on the Senior Tour. He was fresh off a “W” in Augusta, by golly!

He never won again.

Four years later he was able to win against the old dudes but the Masters was the last time he would rally against the younger generation.

Tiger sits at 14 major titles.

After the disaster of 2009, the conversation kicked into gear about Woods matching or passing Nicklaus’ 18.

I don’t think ANYONE would have said by 2015, Tiger wouldn’t have at least one more major trophy.

Now, the idea of another FOUR major victories almost feels out of reach.

He can barely hit out of the sand, much less win a major.

Talk about a real dilemma for the PGA Tour!

Action doesn’t stop just because Eldrick Woods is having problems. They still motor from city to city each week starting in January.

With the wrap around schedule, the tour barely takes a break. There is golf just about 50 weeks a year.

Tennis is similar since it lives on its superstars.

Having Serena and Federer and Nadal and Djokovic play this well as long as they’ve been around, keeps the tennis world community happy.

Americans have long since given up on top notch citizens dominating in tennis outside of the Williams’ sisters. When Pete Sampras retired, no American male has stoked the embers save for a brief glimmer of Andy Roddick.

The time has come for new American tennis stars.

Ditto golf.

Spieth, Walker, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar are just some of the names who are giving it a go.

Jim Furyk has been good for a long time but let’s face it, he’s not about to replace Tiger Woods.

Phil is starting to fade as well.

Mickelson got to a level but he’s only a shining stud when Woods is there to offer up competition.

There really is not much the tour can do.

I hate saying this but, it is…what it is.

When Tiger plays, people watch. When he doesn’t, they don’t.

Not a big mystery wrapped in a riddle.

73-82 and a WD isn’t gonna cut it.

Woods needs to get healthy and work like a dog on his game. He needs to come back when he’s really BACK.

Somehow, someway he will play the Masters.

He might even play all four majors this year, injuries or not. It’s possible he will make a cut or two.

But, winning again? It doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

Golf is a cruel game; a cruel test of the physical and mental. It eats players up and spits them out. Perfection can never be attained.

Tiger is figuring that out now and stunningly so. He probably thought it would be a long time before it came to this. Woods has some soul searching to do many years earlier than he ever imagined.