PGA Tour Confidential: Tiger Woods neck injury and The Players Championship

Hip Flexor

Every week of the 2010 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

TIGER WOODS WITHDRAWS WITH BULGING DISK
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Greetings, fellow Confidentialists. The Players finish from The Ol' Swamp was close and pretty exciting, but let's start with Tiger Woods. On Sunday he pulled out mid-round with a sore neck, which calls into question his summer schedule. Tiger now suddenly says he's been playing through the neck pain until now. The problems just keep coming for Woods. Is he going to be a factor in any major championships, or is this going to be a lost year in his career? I'm leaning toward the latter.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Could be that at an age when many players are in their primes, Woods is past his. He's been at the center of golf for almost two decades. That's a lot of stress. Hope I'm wrong.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Even if Tiger were 100% healthy, his swing is not. He was likely going to skip the three-week Texas Swing, and then play Memorial before heading to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. He said himself that he needed to play more rounds, so being sidelined with an injury is going to make it that much tougher to be a factor this season. It's going to be a year that "coulda been" for Tiger in a lot of ways.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: What a run for Tiger. You can't make his last six months up. The guy has turned into the Chicago Cubs.

Van Sickle: One pressroom wag said Tiger is starting to remind him more every day of Michelle Wie. (Sorry I stole that line, man.)

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: If the neck injury is as bad as he's making it sound, he'd be wise to shut it down for a while. I grimace at the thought of watching him hit out of U.S. Open rough. And the way he's driving it, he would figure to be there plenty.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Hard to believe that in the prime of his career he could be an absolute non-factor for an entire season, but that's looking more and more likely now.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: If Tiger were a stock, now would be the time to buy. Can't go much lower, but long-term, still lots of value. (I gotta stop reading Fortune.)

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: You would have to be out of your mind to count Tiger Woods out. Even if he doesn't win for the next two years, he'll be back before he's done.

Van Sickle: I agree he'll be back eventually. I also agree that it's going to be longer than we thought. He's not going to step right back into it. I'd say he's not going to get there until his marriage situation is resolved.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this WD is an indication of Tiger's lack of desire and weariness about this period in his personal life and golf game. I think the pre-scandal Tiger is able to get through 18 holes and handle an injury with care. As to the question about the remainder of the season: I think it's possible that he doesn't play again until Pebble Beach. The summer is not lost.

Bamberger: That's right. If somebody else plays hurt and shoots 79, nobody cares. If Woods does it, it's blogged about forever. And maybe he's sick of that.

Dusek: No other golfer's bar is set as high as Tiger's. We have come to expect him to reach that level (circa 2000, 2001, 2006-2007) quickly and seamlessly upon his return every season. Clearly this is NOT just any season, and clearly he's not going to meet that standard anytime soon.

Van Sickle: In fairness to Tiger, just about every other golfer who has endured marital problems has pretty much lost a year of his career. Playing through grief is one thing. Playing when your life is unsettled and unhappy and in disrepair is another. Few have done it successfully. So even if Tiger quickly regains his health, I think we now realize that regaining his top playing form is going to be more difficult than just flipping a switch.

Hack: Absolutely. The guy looks nothing like he used to — body language, swing, those bad sunglasses. How could he, with the half year he's had? Now he's going to lose more practice time and more tournament reps and still try to compete at the highest level at Pebble Beach, St. Andrews and Whistling Straits? I can't believe how much has changed since Thanksgiving.

Gorant: When you think about the course of events from June 2008 to today, it's like a Greek tragedy. Let's hope no one gets his eyes gouged out.

Hack: Hubris and hamartia are something else, aren't they?

Van Sickle: Tiger suddenly reminds me of Fred Couples. For the first time, he looks like he doesn't want to be No. 1 anymore. He looks like he wants out.

Bamberger: I agree with that. He's finally figured out that being No. 1 comes with lots of attention, not all of it good.

Godich: The attention has always been there. The problem is that he has nobody to turn to. And I mean nobody. He could have his own episode of "Lost."

Bamberger: Not really. His whole private life was ignored. For years.

Godich: His private life was ignored because he never let anybody in. He was also protected by a close circle of friends. You think he's going to get any sympathy if he cries on somebody's shoulder now? I don't think even Oprah could save him.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: Am I the only one who's tired of Tiger revealing an injury after weeks or months of denying it, even when directly questioned about apparent limps or winces? Is he simply a compulsive liar? What is gained by blowing smoke up our asses with lines like, "it just takes time after a long time away." I'm way beyond annoyed with it. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, but it shows total disrespect on his part to keep coming back to that "you don't know how much pain I was in" line when he's been misleading us about his condition. What's wrong with a little honesty?

Evans: Damn. If Garrity is annoyed we should all take it seriously.

Shipnuck: His addiction to secrecy is so irritating. First the knee, then the Achilles, now the neck. Why can't he just tell us what's going on? It makes it impossible to know what is or is not b.s.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: He wasn't as much of a hothead, and wasn't as short with people. That means at least he's trying. Still, I agree that the secrecy thing is annoying. I agree with Hack. I don't think he'll win a tournament this year.

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