Golfing legend Tiger Woods insists he is “not that far off” breaking a 7-year PGA tour drought, but history suggests that his best days are behind him.
Following a -1 par finish in The Northern Trust PGA event in New York, including only 9 birdies, Woods told reporters: “what you’re seeing is that I’m close and just one shot here, one shot there, per day flips momentum.”
While Tiger may remain only a few shots off the pace in most of his PGA starts, his age is advancing, and so is the level of his opposition.
In the world of professional sports, time waits for no man.
Father time is undefeated
While many golfers continue to compete on the tour into their 40s, very few have managed to win a major. In fact, the oldest major winner was Jack Nicklaus, one of the all-time greats of the sport, who claimed the 1986 Masters at the age of 46.
Many of the major players in Tiger’s prime years have come and gone from the pro tour, however they did find success post-40, with Ernie Els claiming his last major at 42, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson at 43.
Woods at age 44, would have to insert himself into the history books as the third-oldest major winner in the history of the sport if he were to claim the victory he craves and it’s not only age that is against him. His career has been plagued by a litany of back injuries since his last major victory in 2013, culminating in spinal fusion surgery in 2017, so the question remains whether his body is capable of reclaiming the form of his prime years.
However, if he were to recapture his peak physical form, does he have the time?
One foot out the door
Tiger Woods is arguably the most recognisable face in sport. With that comes countless opportunities to expand his empire, and as such he has amassed considerable wealth.
Forbes.com lists Tiger Woods’ net worth at a staggering $700 millon, having earned $62 million to date in 2020 alone. To break that down, his earnings from competing on the PGA tour have totaled $2.3 million in 2020, with a further $60 million earned in endorsements with companies such as Bridgestone, Nike, Rolex, Taylor Made. For their investment, these companies demand a large portion of Woods’ time. Even if money was still a motivting factor for Woods, does he still have the time to dedicate to his craft?
In addition to his endorsements, he also heads up ventures such as Tiger Woods Design, with whom he designs golf courses all over the world. Few are more qualified to work in such a field, and golf course design would make for a wholesome post-retirement career, as well as being just as lucrative as the tour itself.
If money is no longer a motivation, he also runs the TGR Foundation, which aims to bring the sport of golf to less privileged, inner-city children. Even the charity box has been ticked.
So with all of this going for him, what keeps Tiger striving for success on the golf course?
Nothing left to prove
With advancing age and long-term financial security, there can only be one thing driving Tiger: Sporting success. However, with 15 major victories and 82 PGA tour victories overall, Tiger Woods has nothing left to prove.
He is however, tied with Sam Snead for the most PGA tour victories, and 3 shy of Jack Nicklaus’ major victory record of 18. Unless Tiger is simply competing to keep his endorsements ticking over, the championship records are the last domino to fall. While Tiger continues to strive for just one more major win, it would seem that 4 more victories at age 44+ is a lofty goal, even for a legend.
Woods has won all 4 majors on multiple occasions, with 5 Masters championships, 4 PGA Championships, 3 US Opens and 3 Open Championships to his name. With 2 Players Championships to boot, there is no silverware missing from Tiger’s extensive trophy collection.
Woods broke a 4 year drought when he won his last major, the 2013 Players Champtionship, so with 1 win in the past 11 years since the onset of his much-publicised personal issues, it is hard to see him adding another.
While anther major win would make for a great story, and a fitting send-off for a legend, Tiger Woods simply has no reason to give the sport the attention that it requires, and the attention that catapulted him to be one of the most successful golfers in history.
Tiger himself continues to believe that the next win is just around the corner, but again standing in front of reporters at The Northern Trust, he summed his own plight up perfectly: “I know you guys are used to seeing me win five times a year or more, but it’s not that easy to win out there.”
With each passing tournament, sadly it will not get any easier.