By now, just about all of the world knows that Tiger Woods played an epic match with Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open this past weekend, that it took 19 additional holes, and that his knee was in horrendous shape the entire time. Yesterday, ESPN announced that Tiger would be having season ending surgery to repair his ACL and give several stress fractures time to heal.
So did he make the right decision to tough it out and play? Or did he sacrafice too much?
The ex-jock in me thinks that it is pretty admirable for a guy to even give it a go with a bum knee, let alone a guy that plays through pain during OT. Especially in a day and age when pitchers sit out because of blisters, cagers sit the bench because of sore knees, and football players have any number of excuses these days. Then to play for basically a week, where one of your main sources of power comes from your lower half, and to win. That is the stuff legends are made of. I would bet that almost NO athlete would have sat that one out. That would have been the equivalent of Tom Brady hurting his thumb and not even trying to tough it out. We all know that he wouldn’t. Today’s athlete is too driven by winning to sit out. I even read in the USA Today that after the doctor’s told Woods that usually recovery takes 12 months to get back to 100%, he still had the stones to mention that the British Open was only several weeks away. Come on Tiger, I’d rather have you come back healthy and win 1,000 tournaments, then risk ending your career.
If you think about it, he really did put his career on the line. After watching TIger’s swing and the amount of tourque that he puts on his body and the power that he generates, it very impressive. Directly after the injury announcement ocurred, tons of swing coaches and “experts” were out talking about if Tiger would ever be the same. One could argue, that Eldrick will have to totally re-do his swing so that he doesn’t injure his knee again. Possibly take a little off of it in order to keep him upright and walking all the time. Others said that he would probably make a full recovery, but would have to come back slowly when it came to getting into tournaments. I kept saying, “Uh guys, its frickin’ Tiger Woods, he’ll be back.” With ACL injuries, more often then not it comes down to the mental aspect of the athlete. Some have no problem adjusting and can go about their business smoothly, with very little pain and chance for relapse. Others, never come back, and are afraid to “open it up” all the way during competiton. The main reason, FEAR. Fear drives them to think that they might hurt it again, have to go through 12 additional months of rehab, or worse, have to quit. I mean think about it, have you ever had lower back pain? Then it snows one day, and the first thing you think is, “well, I hope I don’t throw my back out.” So from there you strap on you boots and go really slow. Its just our nature to be a little precautious from time to tme.
However, we are talking about Tiger Woods here. Of course he made the right decision. The guy is better on one leg then anyone. If he could, he’d probably be getting ready for the British Open right now. He is one of the most mentally tough athletes on the planet. His focus and drive maybe only second to Michael Jordan. He is just too good not to come back, not to dominate, and not to win another 14 tournaments. Plus he’s only 32. In golfer age, that is probably in the prime of his career. So I say, “take your time Tiger.” When you come back next year, we’ll all be waiting to see your 320+ drives, 5-iron stingers, soft lob shots, and precision putting. Then we’ll all complain that you sat out an entire year, and your still better then 100% of the populations.
Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s how his Dad used to mess with him…Courtesy of Nike…