By RANDALL MELL
How about a healthy year?
If we could give that gift, we would give it to Tiger Woods for his 38th birthday. We all know the physical challenges he has faced. We remember him shaking his left arm in pain after shots at Merion during the U.S. Open back in June. We remember him crumpling to the turf in back pain at Liberty National during The Barclays in August, and we remember his back giving him problems near the end of the Presidents Cup in September. As Woods nears 40, those aches and pains aren’t suddenly going to disappear. If he’s going to step up his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, he’ll need healthy knees, a healthy neck, a healthy back, a healthy body.
If Woods is healthy, that history-making pursuit becomes intriguing for golf fans everywhere.
By REX HOGGARD
What do you get the man with 14 major championships? Fifteen major championships. Ba-da boom.
To celebrate Tiger Woods’ 38th birthday, however, perhaps a more esoteric answer is in order.
Depending on who you ask, maybe a more consistent putting stroke for the world No. 1 or better accuracy with his driver would be a suitable gift. But then he did win five PGA Tour titles in 2013 and his 11th Player of the Year award with what he’s got.
Following a colossally bad bounce on Friday at this year’s Masters, perhaps Woods just needs a little luck to end his recent 0-for-18 slide in the majors. But then you don’t play your way into the record books on the good graces of Lady Luck.
And, of course, Woods would welcome the gift of good health following an eventful few years on and off the disabled list. But he largely avoided the MRI machine in 2013 and, with the help of Sean Foley, seems to have honed a swing that is both efficient and sustainable.
No, for the man that appears to have everything the only gift that would resonate beyond his birthday is the desire to keep improving. It’s what drove him to 14 majors and will be the cornerstone for No. 15 and beyond.
By JASON SOBEL
What do you get for the man who has everything? Something he already owns - but still needs.
That might sound like a riddle, but it's really not. On this Dec. 30, I'd sneak into Woods' garage, find that old Scotty Cameron putter that won him so many majors and slip it back into his golf bag.
I've always bought into the notion of "it's the archer, not the arrow," and with five wins last year it's not as if Tiger can't roll the rock, but I'd like to see how he'd do when reunited with an old pal.
Maybe that magic wand is out of magic and it's better left swapping stories of the past with those other old clubs in the garage. But anyone who watched Woods putt his way to so many major wins couldn't help but be intrigued by the possibility of seeing it come out of retirement for a little while.
Hey, even the guy who has everything sometimes just needs a reminder of what he already has.
By RYAN LAVNER
It’s not sold in stores, and it has proved elusive for dimpleheads everywhere this holiday season, but for his 38th birthday I’d buy Tiger Woods some weekend mojo at the majors.
Yes, he’s been competitive, with six top-6 finishes in majors since the 2010 Masters. But in golf’s biggest events, 20 of Woods’ last 24 weekend rounds have been even par or worse – a startling figure for a world No. 1 who has won eight times in the past two seasons.
For whatever reason, the major magic has disappeared, at least temporarily. Some days, he looks spooked on the greens. Other times, he plays too conservatively.
Stuck at 14 majors for the past 5 1/2 years, Woods could receive worse gifts than a little weekend mojo to go along with his birthday cake.