- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2008

What do I think of Tiger Woods closing up shop for the season and tending to his various knee/leg problems? Oh, there are 18 things I could say.

1. Some guys will do anything to get out of playing in the Ryder Cup.

2. Rocco Marchegiano (otherwise known as Rocky Marciano).

3. It’s a bummer His Tigerness won’t be teeing it up in the AT&T National, but he’ll be back. It is, after all, his tournament.

4. Besides, he hasn’t fared that well at Congressional, anyway (T-19 in the ‘97 U.S. Open, T-6 last year in the AT&T … and never in serious contention either time).

5. Legendary athletes who immediately make you think of knee surgery (Top 5):

  • Joe Namath.
  • Mickey Mantle.
  • Gale Sayers.
  • Bernard King.
  • And now Tiger Woods.
  • 6. Will Tiger rework his swing again so his left knee doesn’t bear as much of the burden? Wouldn’t surprise me. He won’t stop being Tiger, though. He’ll still find a way to hit 300-yard drives and go for par-5 greens in two.

    7. Part of you says, “He’s only 32. He has plenty of good years left.” But another part says, “He’s having all these knee problems, and he’s only 32. What kind of physical wreck is he going to be at 40?”

    8. We’re about to witness the most exhaustively covered rehab in sports history. No joke: They should put it on pay-per-view. ESPN, no doubt, will assign a reporter to the story full-time. His beat will be “Tiger’s left knee.”

    “Orlando …”

    Rinaldi: “Thanks, Scott. I just talked to Tiger’s personal trainer, and he was very happy with the extension Tiger got in his knee earlier today. He said Tiger was almost at 160 degrees.”

    9. In fact, the media will monitor Tiger’s surgery and recovery so closely that, by the end, most golf fans will be certified orthopedists.

    10. Just wondering: If Tiger’s knee became so debilitating that he could only play one tournament a year - the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines (where he has won seven times as a pro) - could he surpass PGA Tour victories? (He currently has 65.)

    11. And if Tiger could only play two tournaments a year - the Buick and, say, the Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour victories. (Just asking.)

    12. You could make the argument that Tiger was having his Best Year Ever when he shut it down. I could throw out a bunch of numbers that might convince you. I could point to his four wins, one second and one tie for fifth in six events - the fastest start of his career. I could note that one of those wins was a major and another a World Golf Championship.

    Or I could say: The man just won the U.S. Open on one leg. How much better can you play?

    13. Any day now, I figure, Tiger will sign a deal to endorse an over-the-counter pain reliever. Possible sales pitch: “Stops nagging body aches and adds 20 yards to your drives!”

    14. Which reminds me: The folks at Bayer missed a real opportunity when they didn’t hook up with Nicklaus during his Champions Tour days and come out with a Golden Bear Aspirin.

    15. Is Steve Williams, Tiger’s intrepid caddie, on salary, or will he have to find driving-range work for the next six or seven months?

    16. “It is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee,” Tiger said on his Web site. “… My doctors assure me with the proper rehabilitation and training, the knee will be strong and there will be no long-term effects.”

    No long-term effects. None whatsoever. Hmmm. Is that a money-back guarantee?

    17. Not trying to be pessimistic, but this is such an unusual injury for a golfer - and Tiger himself is so unique - that we really don’t have much past experience to draw on. There’s just a greater sense of the unknown here.

    18. Show me a great athlete, and I’ll show you a stubborn one. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s both - as it is in this case. Tiger’s refusal to listen to his doctors gave us a memorable Open … and his longest medical leave yet.

    Now we’ll find out whether the trade was worth it.