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Wounded Tiger

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Usually, an animal is most dangerous when it's hurt. That's not the case for a certain Tiger that has been terrorizing the sport of golf for the past 20 years.

That Tiger has gone down with yet another injury, which will force him to miss golf's showcase event, the Masters--a tournament he has won four times. When he tweeted the disappointing news of his absence on April 1, many people thought, "oh that tricky, Tiger; he's just trying to pull an epic April Fool's Day prank on us." It was no joke. Every word of it was true.

Maybe the saddest people that read the tweet were the executives at CBS as they were blind-sided by the disturbing news that they were in danger of taking the brunt of a ratings nose-dive with no Tiger Woods prowling the greens.

Tiger isn't worried about the eyes or money he brings to Augusta; he just wanted to compete in the Super Bowl of golf and try to bring home a fifth green jacket but now, he'll have to wait until next year.

He underwent back surgery last week to relieve pressure and pain caused by a disc problem. The injury could spell months of recovery time, but he does hope to be playing once the summer rolls around.

Either way, I just don't think we'll ever see the old Tiger again.

We'll never see him dominating the sport and crushing any competitor that questioned his greatness and got a little too big for their britches. We'll never see him poke his chest out with the lead and his trademark red shirt on Sunday and lay the rest of the field to waste as he steamrolls to another major victory.

That Tiger is gone. The Tiger we have now, he's just not the same. His mystique is gone.

He's no longer feared. He's unsure. He's hurt; he's normal.

After being a scratch at Augusta, it makes five majors Tiger has missed since 2008 due to injuries. He just can't stay healthy.

He has had four surgeries on his left knee--including reconstructive surgery back in 2008.

He missed the Players Championship back in 2010 with a neck injury, and he missed the 2011 U.S. Open and British Open with an Achilles injury. He had a nagging elbow injury during last year's U.S. Open and now, he has a hurt back. His body just continues to break down on him. He's like that fancy sports car that looks pretty and makes every other car look like a lemon when it's out on the road, but you can't seem to keep it out of the shop.

At the rate things are going, I just don't see Tiger breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major victories.

Just five years ago, I thought it was inevitable. Heck, I thought that he might hit the 20-mark. Things have changed.

I get that Tiger is still young at 38, and I get that Jack won his final major when he was 46. It's apples and oranges.

Tiger would have to win five more majors to break Jack's record; he hasn't won one in six years.

To put it in perspective, Nicholas won four majors from the time he was 38 until he retired, and he didn't have the plethora of nagging injuries Tiger has had to deal with over the years.

Any time you start getting afflicted by knee and back injuries, you're in trouble. Those are injuries that will always linger and give you discomfort, and they always seem to get re-injuried.

Tiger's path to catching Jack seemed to go astray by two events--one in 2008 and another in 2010.

In the 2008 U.S. Open, Tiger fought through a knee injury to earn an epic and gutsy win over Rocco Mediate. Winning the major on one leg was legendary, and Tiger proclaimed it his "greatest ever championship."

However, it took a toll on him. Pushing it so hard to win the tournament led to extensive damage, and he was forced to have reconstructive surgery.

Ever since then, the injuries have come in bunches. Coincidentally, he hasn't won a major since.

That 2008 U.S. Open affected him so much physically, but it was personal issues back in 2010 that affected him mentally.

It was then that the tabloids had a field day with their coverage of Tiger's scandalous affairs with multiple alleged mistresses. His personal life was sprawled out on the pages of magazines and newspapers and on almost every TV station for the whole world to see. As a result, his wife filed for divorce.

Everything--from the divorce, to his home being broken, to the embarrassment, the shame, the intense and ridiculous media coverage, to his ex-wife taking half of his money--it all overwhelmed him and destroyed his psyche.

He has been able to pick himself up and piece his life back together since, but I don't think he was ever the same. I think the situation really did a number on his head.

The proof is in he pudding. He has no major wins since then and only four tournament wins overall.

At the end of the day, he's still Tiger Woods. He's still one of the greatest to ever swing a club.

There is a good chance he'll prove me and many others wrong and pass Jack one day. If so, he better start putting things together soon. "Father Time" is slowly beginning to creep up, and not many have ben able to beat him.