What's Next For Tiger Woods?
On Feb. 23, Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident in Southern California when his vehicle rolled off Hawthorne Ave., a windy two-lane road. The pro golfer was severely injured in the accident and rushed to a nearby trauma center where he underwent several hours of surgery. Immediately following the crash, athletes from across the world voiced their support for Woods. The following Sunday at the WGC-Workday Championship, most of the field donned red shirts to honor Woods and his personal tradition of wearing red on the final day of a tournament.
The most dominant golfer of his generation, Woods has made comebacks from multiple back surgeries over the past decade to return to competitive golf. His “return to glory” was highlighted by his 2018 Tour Championship Win at East Lake and his 15th major win at the 2019 Masters. Woods’ competitive drive and tolerance for pain were highlighted at the 2008 U.S. Open where he played through a fractured leg and torn ACL to win the tournament in a playoff. From 2014 to 2018, Woods underwent multiple back and leg surgeries before he was able to yet again return to the winners’ circle. The 45-year-old Woods’ most recent accident has left him with multiple broken bones in his right leg and there is currently no timeline for his recovery. However, if Tiger has shown us anything in the past few years, we should never count him out from returning to professional golf.
For most of his career, Tiger Woods was always the most dangerous man on the course. His fiery demeanor, exceptional talent, clutch shot-making and huge gallery created an overwhelming aura on the course. Every great shot by Tiger could be heard several holes away. He seemed to be invincible,winning 14 majors and 79 PGA events from 1996 to 2013. However, that invincibility began to dwindle as infidelity scandals turned public opinion against him and injuries took a toll on his performance. The battle-hardened, competitive spirit still remains in Tiger but his outward appearance to his fellow golfers has shifted in the past few years. Gone are the days of the unsmiling, hyper-focused Tiger. Now, he has become a more social player and even likes to play a joke or two with his fellow players. At the 2019 Players Championship, Woods flashed his satirical side while impersonating fellow golfer Kevin Na.
With this shift in his professional demeanor came a pivot in his overall professional focuses. Woods has now become a great mentor and role model for golf’s young stars. He joined the leadership group for the United States’ competitive golf team in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. He has formed strong connections with some of the best players in the world like Justin Thomas, Rory McElroy and Dustin Johnson. This past Sunday, he texted Bryson DeChambeau before the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational providing some encouragement leading up to DeChambeau’s one-stroke victory.
While it is too soon to speculate whether Tiger will compete on the PGA Tour again, he has begun to redefine himself in the world of professional golf where he will continue to impact the game even after his playing days are over.