Tiger Woods’ last chapter was stolen from all of us.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Woods fan or a Jack Nicklaus fan, Tiger’s pursuit of Jack was the epic we once thought we were going to get to see go to the 18th hole, so to speak.
Whether you wanted Woods to catch Nicklaus or not, no storyline in golf held the power to captivate all of sports more than Tiger’s chase.
Psychological and physical injury didn’t just rob Tiger. It robbed us all. We fully invested ourselves. That’s the wonderful nature of sports.
Tiger made me believe I was going to get to see golf’s version of Hank Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth, the most riveting sports chase in my lifetime.
And so that’s the real excitement behind last week’s news that Woods felt strong enough to commit to playing in four events in a five-week window in January and February. Maybe this quest isn’t over. Maybe this story doesn’t yet have its ending.
Yes, it’s a giant leap from making his first official PGA Tour start in almost 18 months to resuming his chase of Jack, but Tiger sounds like a believer again. And that’s what gives this comeback its meaning.
There’s only one way we all get to see this stolen chapter returned to us. It’s if Tiger returns it – and this is his last hurrah.
The PGA Tour’s new year may have begun in Hawaii with Justin Thomas winning Sunday, but the year gets its big bang start in La Jolla, Calif., in three weeks, when Woods tees it up at the Farmers Insurance Open.
You can couch Tiger’s return in less dramatic framing, underplay the larger story, cut him some slack, but one way or another this run is his hurrah. It’s his last chapter.
Tiger’s quest won’t survive another significant setback.
We heard Tiger begin to wonder last year whether the chase was over. He’s 41 now. A fourth back surgery, more neck, knee or Achilles problems will end the chase once and for all. It will fully launch the TGR brand into Tiger’s next phase, his life “as a competitor off the course.”
By the Masters, we may already know if life after Jack is already Tiger’s new path.
We may already know if the stolen chapter’s never going to be returned to us.
I don’t really care if Tiger breaks Jack’s record or not, but I really want to see him get to 17 major championship victories. I want to see the chase resume. I don’t believe it’s going to happen, but I’d love to be wrong.