Upon Further Review
2:37 PM EDT, May 17, 2011
For the past decade and then some, Tiger Woods dominated the sport of golf like few individuals have ever dominated any sport. But as of this weekend, golf is ready to move on, without Tiger Woods. When Woods withdrew after nine holes at the Players championship on Thursday – the so-called 5th major – after shooting a 6-over par 42 on the front nine, it signaled the end of Tiger as we knew him.
He's injured. He can no longer win a golf tournament on talent and sheer will alone. The guy who once won the U.S. Open on a broken leg is gone. (He needs rest and recovery. He's no longer the best player in the game.)
Tiger's presence at a golf tournament no longer has impacts on the strength of field, or the quality of golf on display. This weekend was proof.
Just peruse the names that took at or near the top of the leader board: Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Steve Stricker and Graham McDowell. All rank higher than Woods in the world golf rankings. Because they're all better right now.
Other contenders at the Players: Nick Watney, Jason Day, Hunter Mahan. Top 20 players, in their 20s.
It's their sport now.
And those are just the contenders from this past week.
There are still the likes of Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Rory Mcilroy, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson. A whole army full of top players, capable of carrying the torch while Tiger figures it out.
And they're doing it!
This is not to suggest that Tiger Woods isn't still the biggest draw in the game (if not all of sports). His is. Nor is it to suggest that Woods won't someday return to the form that saw him win 13 major titles in ten seasons. That wouldn't surprise me either.
Woods still has the potential to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.
But it won't be his era, if and when he does. Tiger's era is over.
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