Woods' Spiral Throws Legacy Into Chaos
Stripped of so many attributes that made him as admired as any athlete of his time, Woods now faces a daunting and scary future as a potential golfing cripple. I'm not saying he won't be able to play, but as he awaits the results of an MRI on the latest in a relentless series of ailments -- a creaky neck, numbness and tingling down his right fingers, a possible bulging disc -- he'll likely play the balance of his career in varying degrees of pain, some of it intense. Thus, it's fair to wonder if he'll ever be healthy enough to reclaim the consistent form -- much less the invincibility and arrogance, which now appear gone forever -- to take what now looms as a difficult leap from his current 14 major titles to a record-breaking 19, one more than the grand champion and loyal family man Jack Nicklaus. The one seeming certainty about Woods was that he'd stay in optimum shape longer than his rivals, that he'd fight through injuries like no other golfer because, in the end, he was more of a world-class athlete than the rest.
But karma sucks in Tiger's world, you might say. The same neck he injured in his Nov. 27 car accident -- or, some might suggest, in the supposed golf-club attack by enraged wife Elin -- has been invaded by spasms. Twenty-three months ago, Woods limped around at Torrey Pines for five days and won the U.S. Open in a profile of sports courage for the ages. Sunday, he failed to finish the final round of The Players Championship, withdrawing after six holes and painting a stunning picture of his new place in the food chain. Imagine: For two straight weeks, the world's first billion-dollar athlete didn't earn an official penny playing golf. Whether it's a missed cut in North Carolina or a splash-fest of wild tee shots in Florida, we haven't seen a superstar shrink so suddenly and leave himself so vulnerable since Superman succumbed to Kryptonite.