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Tiger Woods

We need to talk about Tiger: Why is he putting himself – and us – through this?

The Masters was a miracle, but the PGA Championship is looking like a step too far. Tiger Woods has nothing to prove, so why, asks Steve Carroll, does he continue to resist?

 

It was a mic-drop moment at Bethpage Black. John Daly had taken to a cart at the PGA Championship – hobbled by osteoarthritis and assisted by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tiger Woods, only weeks after he’d turned Augusta National into an adoring frenzy, was in a playful mood.

“As far as JD taking a cart… well, I walked with a broken leg.”

The words drifted into the air. Never forget he’d beaten Rocco Mediate on one leg at the US Open in 2008. The big cat’s renowned machismo was intact.

It was justified. He’d just won the Masters with a fused back.

Three years on, I wonder if he feels that way now. I salute his determination. I salute his grit. I salute his desire.

It has been a phenomenal achievement to make the cut at Southern Hills. How did he even manage it?

But Tiger’s every step this week has made me wince. And it also makes me wonder, why he’d would want to put himself through this kind of agony?

He’s got nothing to prove, only Jack Nicklaus’s record to break – and his pursuit of that effectively ended in that Los Angeles car crash.

We were captivated with him during his peak. It’s shocking to watch him now.

He must be spending a night in Lourdes every time he finishes a round. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing him using a driver as a walking stick.

If golf’s what causes you pain, as he admitted after an opening 74 that had everyone reaching for the paracetamol, what’s the motivation to carry on?

Saturday’s 79 – which saw nine shots go in eight holes in a horrid spell and which forced his withdrawal – reminded me of a boxer who’s had one fight too many. He just can’t compete at the moment over four rounds.

It is still early days in the overall Woods recovery. They say time is a great healer. He clearly requires plenty of it. But, at 46, the sands are not on his side.

We’ll see him in July at St Andrews where he’ll once more stare straight-down-the-camera-lens and utter, with steely belief, that he can win.

I’d take him just getting through the week without looking like a paramedic shouldn’t ever be more than a couple of steps behind.

Of course, he’s been written off before and proved everyone wrong. A wrecked cruciate, that fused back – he’s beaten them and many more to achieve the impossible. I hope he does it again.

But this time it feels a step too far – his chances entirely dependent on how he wakes up on any given day. You can’t challenge on a biological roll of the dice, and a schedule that features the big four and pretty much nothing else.

There is something deep in Tiger’s very being that refuses to even acknowledge defeat. That mentality saw him scale unbelievable heights. None of us want to let go, least of all him.

But if it carries on like this, we’re not paying homage to a legend. It’s voyeurism and little else.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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