Tiger Woods has paid his tab to the game

Jun 7, 2015; Dublin, OH, USA; Tiger Woods tees off at the first hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2015; Dublin, OH, USA; Tiger Woods tees off at the first hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Tiger Woods has to be frustrated with what it costs to actually be Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is still the biggest name in the game of golf. Tiger himself is probably tired of that being the casel. In fact it’s a guaranteed certainty all Tiger wants is to get healthy and not live his life in some phase of recovery from something.

Much of the golf world seems to think Tiger owes it to them to return to competition. Tiger doesn’t agree, and in case you haven’t noticed the world of golf has continued on and survived Tiger’s 4 back surgeries. In fact Tiger seems to be recovering all alone. That makes everyone’s anguish over his latest operation even more ridiculous.

Hard as it is to believe, it’s been almost 9 years since Tiger Woods won his last Major Championship. I know it seems like last week that Tiger limped around Torrey Pines and won the US Open on one leg but as matter of fact that was nearly a full decade ago.

In those 9 years all 4 Major Championships have continued on an annual basis just as when Tiger was competing in them; and for that matter the PGA TOUR has carried it’s tournaments on as scheduled and even prospered.

Case in point: the 2017 Valero Texas Open raised a new all time record this year in money it will donate to charity despite the fact it’s not generally considered a premier event. That small yet important fact is actually as much a part of Tiger’s legacy as his 14 Major Championships.

More from Pro Golf Now

The interest and consequently the extra money for everyone involved is still pouring in because of Tiger. Somehow it seems more compelling to focus on what the man hasn’t done well or isn’t doing now – recovering from 4 major back operations in 4 years and still playing the game better than anyone ever has.

Maybe its just my perception of how Tiger is covered by the media and commented on by golf fans but if I didn’t know better it would almost seems as if Tiger owes some huge debt to the game; and news of his most recent back operation is being described as though he is some kind of deadbeat giving his latest excuse for not paying off a debt.

I feel compelled to remind everyone that whatever Tiger Woods chooses to do going forward is his and only his decision. He owes you, me, any fan, or anyone else in the world of golf nothing. In fact he actually overpaid his dues to the game and is now paying the price for his generosity.

Let me explain: to be perfectly clear, I absolutely do not agree with everything Tiger has done. I specifically feel he handled the Steve Williams situation poorly and it was disappointing to see him behave in that way.  

More from Golf Lifestyle

I don’t know Tiger and in fact, with the exception of watching him hit balls on the range at Augusta one year, have never physically been in his proximity. Therefore any thoughts I have on him off the golf course are second-hand at best. Granted I have heard good things and bad things about Tiger but that reason alone is why I don’t have any right to speculate on his future or character.  I prefer to base my comments on actual facts that are indisputable. Here are some that are my foundation for my opinion on Tiger’s future and place in golf history, if in fact he has played his last competitive round:

Tiger never HAD to succeed as a pro to begin with in order to have a wonderful life. Nike gave him umpteen gazillion dollars on a guarantee before he hit his first professional golf shot and had Tiger decided to take their money and go lay on a beach or something for the rest of his life then he actually could of done so with the financial freedom to live like a king. Obviously he chose a much more challenging path – playing the most difficult sport in the world better than anyone ever has.

Granted, Tiger has been handsomely rewarded for his success on the golf course. So has everyone else associated with professional golf since he came on the scene.  There is absolutely no argument that everyone involved, from his competition on the course to the people who cover the sport for a living, have benefitted from his success.

I am not aware of any of Tiger’s critics who are so offended by him that they have declined any of the money they have collected that they came into as a direct result of his coat tails.

During Tiger’s run where he captured his 14 major titles he also made himself into not only the most famous golfer on the planet but the most famous athlete period. He was Elvis and Michael Jordan, all wrapped up in one. Elvis died and MJ finally retired and Tiger got hurt. Simple as that.

Forget about all the other distractions. The bottom line is like many other famous athletes the karma of injuries is what has beat him for the last decade.  The physical demands that were required in order to be Tiger Woods turned out to be more than even Tiger Woods could play his way through.

The game and its traditions didn’t cease to exist. Both are safe and actually better than ever because of Tiger. Just ask Kevin Chappell,  Wesley Bryan, or world number one Dustin Johnson. Those first two guys have won themselves rich in just the last two weeks playing for stakes that were unfathomable before Tiger came on the scene. And DJ? The money he has earned along the way to being the number one player in the world is more than Nicklaus, Palmer, Hogan or any other all time greats ever considered winning, all because of Tigers’ success.

Two weeks ago when it was revealed Tiger had undergone another back operation the media went nuts. The first wave of articles and segments seemed to focus on how Tiger had somehow betrayed the world by not disclosing this information sooner. Then as the week wore on came the obligatory coverage speculating about his future on the golf course. I even heard the argument where it was suggested if Tiger doesn’t return and break Nicklaus’s record of 18 Majors he will be considered an underachieving failure. Excuse me?

The very last thing that can ever be said about Tiger is that he is some sort of underachieving failure. As a matter of fact if you need an example of a great role model for kids as to what work ethic and potential can produce there is no better example than Tiger. The off-course issues have nothing to do nor should ever be considered any factor in assessing what Tiger has accomplished, whether or not he plays again.

Players like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth all grew up wanting to be Tiger and have spent years in training for the job. A good number of players on tour are longer off the Tee than Tiger ever was. Tiger could come back and play great and still not win another major. There’s no shame in that.

Next: Tiger Woods' 30 best career victories

Tiger Woods has paid more than his fair share to the game and he has the scars and trophies to prove it.