Editorial by John Ziegler

Tiger Annouces His Effective Retirement

12/11/2009

Well, as I have been predicting on numerous radio shows for the past few days, Tiger Woods is “retiring” from golf. Notice I didn’t say “taking an indefinite leave of absence.” Make no mistake; this is a retirement of sorts.

 Those in the media who were delusionally holding on to the now absurd notion that Tiger could have ever come back and played on the tour in January, are now laughably claiming that by the Masters everything will be back to “normal.” Baloney. It might not be permanent, but this is not a John McCain suspends his campaign indefinitely moment. Tiger Woods is essentially retired (in the modern sports definition of the word) from golf.  This is not a "break," this is a "break up."  

 Why am I so sure? Let me count the ways.

 First, what is the remotely logical scenario where he comes back by March/April? For that to happen, his effective “time with the family” would be all of two months (because he would never come back without his golf game being in top shape, especially now, and there will no ability for him to keep even a semblance of game while fixing his life/marriage, especially if, as reported, he will be in Sweden). Two months would obviously not be enough time to heal the wounds in his family and it certainly wouldn’t be effective as a PR stunt (which, btw, I don’t believe this is).

 Coming back at the Masters is a total non starter from both a golf as well as a logistical perspective. You can’t possibly take over four months off, have your life turned upside down and compete at the Masters. It’s impossible. Plus, the membership at Augusta National would not appreciate the absolute circus that will surely ensue if and when Tiger ever does return to action.

 So, once he misses the Masters (which I am 90% certain he will) and sets the precedent that he has missed a major (something he didn’t do even after his father died), when would he come back?

Well, at that point all bets are off because, as imbecilic as it sounds, the longer it takes him to return, the longer it will take him to return. What I mean by that is that for him to be ready after a month layoff it might take him a week of heavy practice, two months/two weeks, three months/three weeks, etc.

 One of the many things non golfers don’t seem to understand is that there is a massive difference between practice golf and playing golf in a major tournament, especially since in this case he would be dealing with massive psychological trauma.

 This means that he can’t return at a major, or even the Players Championship in May, or else he will embarrass himself and allow the wolves to begin circling around his career.  Which tournament before the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach could possibly endure what would still be an exercise in media madness? Jack’s tournament? I doubt he would do that to Nicklaus. So now it becomes hard to see how he plays in the U.S. Open.

 The only tournament I see as a possible return for next year would be his own in D.C. in July. But one of the many potential problems there are that AT&T is the sponsor and they have already put out a statement saying they are “reevaluating” the relationship. Not only that, but the membership at Congressional Country Club wasn’t thrilled with hosting the tournament before the scandal broke.   

 If he goes into July, obviously St. Andrews would not be the place to go to reenter the golf world from either the golf or the tabloid perspective.

 Here is the bottom line. I think Tiger is being mostly sincere here. I think he is doing this honestly not having any idea when or even if he is returning. If there is a “strategy” here (other than saving his marriage, which may not even be possible at this point) it may be to take so much time off that the story eventually does die down a bit and maybe even reach the point where people are begging him to return. Once that happens, expectations and logistics would be far more manageable. In my view that won’t be until at least his own 2010 December tournament (assuming it still exists), which he just blew off.

 One of the most difficult parts of predicting any of this is that there is a great potential for the environment to change dramatically and instantly. If the marriage fails, if all his sponsors drop him, if the PGA ratings drop off the cliff and they start to lose tournaments, if his foundation tournaments collapse, all bets are off. But right now, I will be far more shocked if he plays in the 2010 Masters than if he doesn’t play at all in 2010 or even beyond.

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