Tiger Woods' latest WD shows comeback attempt could be ill-fated

Tiger Woods' latest WD shows comeback attempt could be ill-fated

Euro Tour

Tiger Woods' latest WD shows comeback attempt could be ill-fated

Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – So what now for Tiger Woods after his withdrawal from the $2.65 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic?

Woods’s exit from the tournament due to a back spasm after he’d returned a 5-over 77 throws not only his entire season into question, but his future, too. Woods is due for a week off before scheduled back-to-back appearances in the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour.

Will he tee it up in those events? Will he play well? Will he make the Masters? A full season? Can he ever get close to his best?

Woods generates more questions than answers these days.

That the 14-time major winner is a shadow of his former self is an understatement. Who wouldn’t be after the injuries Woods has suffered throughout his career? Ask anyone who’s had back problems, and they’ll tell you how hard it is just to function let alone do anything athletic.

Woods is far from athletic right now. That was obvious from his 77 blows in Dubai.

Dubai marked Woods’ third tournament in his comeback, and it was hard not to compare the former World No. 1 to other great sportsmen trying to recapture the form that made them dominant. Bjorn Borg trying to win Grand Slam titles with wooden rackets eight years after retirement springs to mind.

Think of any boxer who’s come out of retirement to try to recapture former glories only to find the body won’t do what the mind tells it to.

There are eerie similarities in that last metaphor. Woods’ body can’t now do what comes naturally. He overpowered golf courses in his halcyon days. Not now. As he admitted in Dubai, “I’m not going to be hitting balls like some of these guys 340 out there. So you do it differently.”

How many fastball pitchers have tried to extend their careers by throwing different pitches when age limited speed? And failed.

There’s no doubting Woods has the talent to play the game differently, but will his body let him? On the evidence of Dubai, the answer is an emphatic no.

Woods looked like a broken man walking the first round in Dubai. He seemed to be tip toeing around the course as if gripped by fear that anything too strenuous would cause injury. As he admitted before the first round. “The simplest thing is I just play away from pain.”

That might be the most pertinent statement Woods made during his short Middle East trip.

Agent Mark Steinberg said Woods’ back spasm had nothing to do with the nerve pain Woods underwent surgery for. Most golf aficionados will be hoping that’s true. Skeptics will wonder.

Woods made a successful return to competitive golf in the Bahamas in December. He didn’t appear to be in any pain. Even last week over two rounds at the Farmers Insurance Open he looked to be physically okay. Not in Dubai.

Whatever anyone feels about the man, he was great for golf and set records that might never be broken. To see him struggle on a course where he won twice, where his stroke average had previously been 68.17, was a sad sight.

Only Woods knows deep in his heart if he can get back to anywhere near his best. Let’s hope he can.

Many have got lost in the desert chasing mirages. Tiger Woods looked just that in the sands of Dubai. But then it’s hard to find sanctuary with a broken compass when you’re hopelessly lost.

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