If you would have asked me one year ago, after Tiger Woods finished fourth in The Masters, his first tournament back after sex addiction counseling, if he’d break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, I’d have said, “Absolutely.”
After a year and a half without a win, and injuries affecting his ability to play on a regular basis, I don’t think Tiger will pass Nicklaus. In fact, I’m to the point where I’ll be surprised if Woods wins another major championship.
Woods left the Tournament Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., nine holes into his first round, six over par and citing pain in his knee and his Achilles tendon for his departure. Woods has had lots of trouble with his legs, and has had four surgeries on his right knee. Whenever someone has a surgery, there’s a corrosion that can’t be reversed. When Woods had his first surgery, there was only so far the knee was going to be able to rebound, but not to 100 percent. Same with the second, third and fourth surgeries.
The knee problems led to Achilles tendon problems. When Woods tried to start running after his 2008 surgery, it led to a torn Achilles. And when he suffered that, he turned to Dr. Anthony Galea. Galea wasn’t licensed to practice medicine in the United States, and was accused of providing many elite level athletes with performance enhancing drugs. In addition, Galea was known as an HGH specialist. Woods had him to his home in Orlando, but said before the 2010 Masters that Galea’s treatment of him was innocent.
Woods explained, “I had PRP, platelet-enriched plasma treatments, and basically what that is; they draw blood from your arm, spin it in a centrifuge and spin the plasma into the entries. As you all know, 2008 I blew out my ACL and part of my reconstruction with my LCL, it wasn’t reacting properly, it was a little bit stuck. And so I had the PRP injection into my LCL.
“And then in December, I started to train, start running again and I tore my Achilles in my right leg. I then had PRP injections throughout the year. I kept re-tearing it throughout the year and throughout the summer. I used tape most of the year to play, and so – I also went to hyperbaric chambers after the injections to help drive in the – it does help you heal faster and did everything I possibly could to heal faster so I could get on the golf course.”
Last year at this time, the Canadian born and licensed Galea was indicted by U.S. Government officials on charges that included lying to federal officials, smuggling, unlawful distribution of HGH, introducing the unapproved drug actovegin into interstate commerce and conspiracy to defraud the United States. They say that he provided performance enhancers to three unnamed NFL players. Galea reportedly is working on a plea deal with prosecutors right now.
There’s tremendous circumstantial evidence connecting Woods to, at the very least, HGH. And now that Tiger is literally falling apart and can’t seem to heal, that evidence appears even stronger.
Last week, fellow PGA pro Bubba Watson said he thought Woods’ problems were between the ears.
“You know, I think … yeah, I’ll just go ahead and say it,” Watson said. “I think Tiger is going the wrong way. I think he’s so mental right now with his swing. Just go out there and play golf. He used to hit shots, used to bomb it, used to do all that stuff. In 2000 and ’97 I think he did pretty good. He won the Masters by 48 shots or whatever he won it by.
“All of us are good at golf. Sometimes I think some of the great players, they get too wrapped up in the mental part.”
Now it’s clear that Woods has physical issues that are affecting his game too. In short, he’s a mess. He can’t play the game physically like he used to. He doesn’t hit it as far (Woods is 69th in driving distance this year on the PGA tour), he doesn’t putt as well as he used to, and doesn’t get his chips as close to the hole as he used to. He’s ranked eighth in the World Golf Rankings, but in reality he isn’t close to being among the 10 best players in the world right now.
At his best, Woods was the best player that ever played. Statistically, he was better than Palmer, better than Nicklaus, better than Jones or Snead. Five years ago, it was easy to project him as the absolute best; someone that would win 25 majors.
As it stands right now, the final results will likely show that Nicklaus was the best ever based on his 18 majors. It’s hard to imagine, based on the last couple of years, that Woods will win another one, let alone four or five more.
Sadly, even if he would get to that point, evidence suggests that Woods’ exploits on the golf course were as illegitimate as Barry Bonds’ records on the baseball field. Even though he never failed a test, the fact that he employed Galea, and now his body is suffering the classic steroid-user consequences, can only lead me to believe that Woods was a juicer.