Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Will Tiger Woods ever be the same?

Tiger Woods mimics a swing move to coach Chris Como while on the range prior to playing in the pro-am event at the Farmer Insurance Open golf tournament on Feb. 4.
Tiger Woods mimics a swing move to coach Chris Como while on the range prior to playing in the pro-am event at the Farmer Insurance Open golf tournament on Feb. 4. AP

Tiger Woods is like me in one regard. Neither one of us can chip.

It doesn’t matter what I do, I have the touch of an armored vehicle around the greens.

And, lately, so does Woods. Sorry, but I can’t help but giggle when he scalds a wedge from near the green. Bad golf shots are almost always funny, except to the ones making them.

Woods never used to make bad golf shots. Remember those days? He was the best, the winner of 14 major tournaments and a countless amount of money. Then he got a little out of control with those of the female persuasion, his wanderings became public and his game has not been the same since.

It’s my contention that the Woods sex scandal did irreparable harm to his psyche. I’m not discounting his physical challenges, because it’s obvious Woods has been hurting from knee and back pain for a while now.

When Woods announced this week that he was stepping away from golf until his game becomes more PGA Tour-worthy, it was viewed by many in the media as a very temporary absence. ESPN golf writer Bob Harig, who seems quite fond of Woods, never even mentioned the possibility that Woods could have career-threatening problems far beyond his ability to chip in the piece he did for ESPN.com.

Woods has withdrawn from three of his past nine tournaments. And an inability to chip is just one of a myriad of problems that have been on display for the golf-viewing public to witness. There are dozens of players nowadays who can match or exceed Woods in distance and accuracy. The knees of his opponents used to wobble at first sight of him on the course, but everybody is standing up straight to Woods now.

It’s probably not respectful enough to say he’s just another golfer. But, well, he’s just another golfer.

Woods is nearing 40 but it appears the bones holding up his body are significantly older. He’s more bulk than bite.

Television ratings are down without Woods to love – or not love. The young guns in the game lack the total package that Woods put together in his best days – talent, charisma, attitude, flair.

He turned golf tournaments, especially the majors, into appointment television. How many yards went without mowing on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon because those in charge of the mowing couldn’t pull themselves aware from the latest Woods drama?

We miss that guy. I’m sure Woods misses that guy.

But is the return of that guy simply a matter of some fine tuning? Isn’t that what Woods has been trying to do for a while now?

It is plausible to me that Woods simply has lost a major chunk out of his game and that he’ll never get it back. It happens to every athlete, though golfers have a longer shelf life.

Woods appears to be damaged goods, both brain and body. And I think he knows it. The feeling I get is that playing golf is no longer fun for him, but an obligation. His pride is enormous and going out this way – as a guy missing cuts – is not acceptable.

So he struggles. He grinds. He practices and plays and searches for the Woods of old, convinced he’s in there somewhere.

But maybe he’s not. That’s possible, right? Nothing lasts forever.

At least lawns are getting proper maintenance.

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