If you’re a sports fan, you probably were glued to your TV on June 15, 2008, as Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate and Lee Westwood battled it out for the 2008 U.S. Open.
It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for viewers, with one of the greatest golfers of all time, Woods, persevering through injuries with a relative unknown, Mediate, and a major-less star, Westwood, standing in his way. Woods’ clutch putt on the 72nd hole forced a rare Monday playoff, which he won by one shot over Mediate.
It was vintage Tiger on one of golf’s biggest stages. But vintage Tiger has been hard to come by ever since.
Woods hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. Instead, personal issues and injuries have dominated his life ever since. Sure, there have been glimpses of the old Tiger, who made golf a must-watch event in the late 1990s and most of the 2000s, but those moments never translated into a major. And the likelihood Woods will get back to that point just took another major hit.
Woods underwent a second microdiscectomy surgery back in September, and while the surgery was a success, it could keep him sidelined for quite some time. He addressed that gloomy fact Tuesday while speaking with reporters at the Hero World Challenge, his annual charity golf tournament in the Bahamas.
“I have no answer for that and neither does my surgeon,” Woods said, via ESPN.com. “There is no timetable, so that’s the hardest part of me. There’s really nothing I can look forward, nothing I can build towards. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?”
Woods said he can walk, but that’s about it.
“It’s just taking it literally day by day and week by week and time by time,'” he said. “It’s different from any of the other surgeries and procedures that I’ve had in the past, where, OK, you blow out your ACL, which I did, and I had ACL reconstruction and OK, you’re back in nine months. That’s the timetable. For nerves, there are really no timetables, and therein lies the tricky part because you can come back earlier or you can come back later, it just depends on how the nerve heals and how it settles.”
It appears the time has come to put aside talks of Woods breaking Jack Nicklaus’ major record for good. Woods said he hopes to “get after it with these guys” on tour again, but he conceded anything “is gravy” at this point.
Woods, 40, has enjoyed an illustrious 20-year career, which includes 14 major titles, 79 PGA Tour wins and 623 weeks as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. However, he hasn’t won a tournament since 2013, and he has fallen all the way to No. 400.
It might finally be time to put aside any hopes and dreams that vintage Tiger will return for a serious run at a 15th major title. If it is, though, there always will be June 15-16, 2008, two of the most exciting days of golf one will ever see — and a heck of a career to go along with it.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@GolfPictures_