The longer Tiger Woods stays away, the more the tide turns against him. The next trend in media opinion columns will be predictions that Tiger can't--or won't--break the Jack Nicklaus mark of 18 professional major championships.
At the cutting edge of what's to come, Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer doesn't flat-out state that Tiger won't get Jack's record, but he admits to considering the possibility that now it may not happen. Mostly, he compares Tiger's legacy to Jack's and finds Tiger coming up short in all ways.
Golf has seen a lot of "next Jacks" who weren't. Clearly, Tiger Woods isn't Jack Nicklaus either.
It is clear, if little else is, that he is no longer almost sure
to break Nicklaus' record of 18 major professional championships. The
factors the older players always brought up--serious injury, personal
loss, marriage--got him.
After Woods limped to a 19-hole playoff victory at the 2008 U.S.
Open over Rocco Mediate on a wrecked left knee, I speculated that his
greatest triumph might also pose the greatest threat to his career-long
quest to pass Nicklaus. That would be particularly likely if Woods
continued to test his soon-to-be-repaired knee with his hurricane-force
didn't win a major last year, even failing in the PGA Championship to
hold a fourth-round lead in a major for the first time in his career.
Nor did he seem to cut down the velocity of his swing dramatically.
Tiger might still surpass Jack's record for major
wins, he'll never match Nicklaus' standard off the course. Ever since Thanksgiving night, we've also seen what a sham his
Nicklaus met the media in good times and bad, after family traumas
and after great triumphs... He is 70 years old
now, married to the same woman for 50 years this July, all without a
whiff of scandal. In his prime, he would fly home with the lead in
tournaments to see his kids' games, then fly back.
Another Jack? You're away, Tiger. Way away.
It was like dropping in on the
mannequins storeroom at JCPenney. Vacant expressions all around... Tim Finchem, the PGA
Tour commissioner, was there, playing the part of Howdy Doody to
Tiger's Buffalo Bob Smith.