GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
By CHRISTINA QUACH
What was once a household name turned into a household joke: Tiger Woods.
42 year-old golfer Woods, famous for both his affairs and his athletic abilities, has won 79 Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour events and 14 majors. However, after his back surgery to remove a disc that caused him pain, Woods rested for a few months, and many avid fans expected his comeback on Jan. 25 to be groundbreaking, but it was anything but that. In most of his games, younger players have outshone and outshot him, and lately Woods is nothing but a “has-been.”
Currently, he is 13 points behind the front-runner, Patrick Reed, which is very disappointing, because Woods used to be the hardest to beat when in came to golfing, but now it seems like it is harder for him to beat others. As such, it is highly unlikely for him to beat the other golf players in the game, especially younger athletes, such as 33 year-old Dustin Johnson, the current number one golfer in the world. As Woods gets older, his skills decrease while the younger players are still in their prime.
The top 14 players in professional golf have an average age of 32 years old, which is a decade younger than Woods. While there are some players that are around the same age as him, Woods has not shown his ability to win a major championship since his return. His most recent game marked his second worst score on his Masters record: 75.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many players around Woods’ age that still excel in golf. For instance, Julius Boros won at the 1963 U.S Open at age 43 and became the oldest major champion after winning the 1968 PGA Championship at age 48.
Moreover, Woods’ recent plays have not made him seem threatening to younger players, especially since many barely remember the time when Woods was the one to be wary of on the PGA Tour.
For instance, in the Augusta Nationals on April 5th, Woods faltered at his fifth hole, where he knocked his second shot into a thick brush and struggled to find the ball: a sign that is definitely not intimidating to the players who then proceeded to outshoot him. Not only was this unexpected of him, but it also led him to scramble during the rest of the game to get a decent score.
However, Woods stated on April 6th to the Savannah Morning News that he knows that his best days are over, and he is happy to play merely for the enjoyment of it. His days of playing competitively and seriously are gone, but after countless injuries, playing at the championships is still important to him.
While his decline is not the best, many do not realize that it has opened a door for aspiring players to make their mark on the golfing community like Woods has done in the past. Essentially, this marks a change in era for golf: the once legendary players are leaving and the new young bloods are settling down to make a name for themselves.
Ultimately, while Woods has been declining in the golf world for a while, there is a chance —a very slim one, that is— that he can return to his glory days, and, if not, he managed to be on the top at one point in his career. Also, that means that there is a space for a new player to shine on the field that may even be on par with Woods during his prime, or even better.