Tiger The Hints Were There


If we had listened to the hints a little more closely, maybe we wouldnt have been so surprised when Tiger Woods shut it down for the rest of the year Tuesday.
Before Sundays fourth round at the U.S. Open Mark Steinberg, Tigers agent, told me, Hes been struggling more than you know.
Now we know. Tiger Woods wont play golf again until after reconstructive anterior cruciate ligament surgery. The date for the surgery hasnt been set.
Now we also know, according to a statement issued by the Woods camp, that Woods will also be rehabilitating a double stress fracture of his left tibia that was discovered last month just prior to the Memorial tournament. The stress fractures were attributed to Woods intense rehabilitation and preparations for the U.S. Open.
Another hint came after Tigers Monday playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines South when I asked Hank Haney if Tiger might miss next months Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
We will all know real soon, Haney informed me in an E-mail.
Now we know.

Casey Martin knows a thing or two about playing on a bad leg. He is now the golf coach at the University of Oregon. He is a friend of Tiger Woods. And was a golf teammate of Woods at Stanford University.
Martin was in the national spotlight in the late 90s when he took his case to court to get permission to ride a cart while playing on the PGA TOUR. He still suffers from a serious vascular disease that greatly impairs the flow of blood in his right leg.
So Martin was more than just an interested observer watching Woods win his 14th major championship last week.
I was blown away, Martin said from Chicago where he is having his right leg looked at, again, by doctors. It was really impressive what he was able to do based on the fact that it was his left leg.
If your left knee is hurting is has to be so hard to trust your swing and not bail out. Its no wonder Tiger was having so much trouble hitting the ball straight. He just won the hardest tournament in the world and he wasnt even close to healthy
You can play this game with a bad right leg. Trust me. Ive done it. But I dont know how you can play that kind of golf on a bad left leg.
One of the big questions out there now is how will Woods respond if he has to change his swing to accommodate a knee that could be permanently weaker or/or less flexible after the surgery.
He will view it as a challenge, Martin said. Maybe he will be better if he doesnt swing so hard. I was watching him swing at Torrey Pines and I was, like, man, just chip it down there. But thats not in his mentality.
To be sure, Casey Martin can feel Tigers pain right now better than most.

A lot of people are wondering why there was such a cloud of secrecy surrounding Woods injuries prior to Tuesdays announcement.
Part of the answer surfaced when I asked Haney if HE suffered at all while watching Woods in so much obvious pain last week. Haneys answer was revealing.
I knew the pain would be there, Haney responded. But I also know how tough he is and I knew he would make it through somehow. He doesnt like anyone to worry about his condition, he just deals with it. When he said he was playing and going to win, I believed him and tried to do my job, even when it looked at times like he might not be able to play.
When I mentioned one of my favorite quotes, Dont complain, dont explain attributed to auto industry baron Henry Ford II, Haney brightened.
That is a good one and it is part of the code, he said. Dont complain, dont explain. There is a reason for this.
And the reason is part of the code.

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