PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) – This might come as a shock, but Tiger Woods isn't the only player coping with an injury.
Paul Goydos was driving to the doctor's office Tuesday morning to have surgery on his left wrist. It has been bothering him most of his 25 years on the PGA Tour, but the pain usually goes away. This time, it didn't. He has a bone spur that needs to be removed, and figures he'll be out of action for some three months.
Would it hurt his feelings if this news was buried behind an update on Woods' left Achilles tendon?
“No,'' Goydos said, stifling a laugh. “It's called the Achilles' heel for a reason.''
Lucas Glover had to wait three months to make his PGA Tour debut. The former U.S. Open champion slipped off a paddle board along the shores of Hawaii the weekend before the season opener at Kapalua and injured knee ligaments. Glover didn't think it was so bad at first. He thought about playing Honolulu, then the California desert, then San Diego, then Pebble Beach.
All he got was a weekly dose of disappointment each Friday afternoon when he withdrew from the next tournament, until he finally gave up on the West Coast Swing. Glover finally gets to play the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook, having recovered from the sprained medial collateral ligament and a plica tendon, along with some atrophy in his quadriceps.
But it's all about the Achilles these days.
“I don't feel slighted at all,'' Glover said. “What is it, 14 to 1?''
Glover grinned, waiting for the numbers to make sense. That would be 14 majors for Woods, one for him.
David Toms also withdrew from the Cadillac Championship on Sunday with a back injury. No one seemed to notice. There's a chance some people didn't even know he was at Doral in the first place.
Instead, there was television footage of Woods in his red shirt climbing into a golf cart and being driven to the parking lot. NBC Sports was able to use the camera from the blimp for an overhead shot of Woods' driving away from Doral in his black Mercedes, which didn't thrill the folks at Cadillac who paid upward of $10 million to sponsor the tournament.
The good news for Woods is that he's still news. As Jack Nicklaus once told him in South Africa, “Just make sure you're part of the conversation.'' Never mind that Nicklaus was talking about rivalries, not injuries.
It will stay that way, especially while the golf world holds its breath to hear whether the Achilles tendon injury that forced Woods to withdraw after 11 holes on Sunday really was a mild sprain, as he said Monday night on Twitter.
Woods hopes to be hitting balls by the end of the week, and maybe even compete next week – though he didn't make clear in 140 characters if he was talking about the silly made-for-television event called the Tavistock Cup or the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, which would be his last event before the Masters.
No one moves the needle like Woods.
That much is true, even as Rory McIlroy settles in as the new world No. 1 and doesn't shy away from it.
The day after the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland held off Woods to win the Honda Classic and go to the top of the ranking, McIlroy was at Madison Square Garden before thousands of fans with a tennis racket in hand and Maria Sharapova on the other side of the net. It was a fun moment, something rarely – make that, never – seen from Woods.
On Tuesday, McIlroy tweeted a picture of New York fashion designer Alexander Nash fitting him for a suit. Turns out McIlroy has been invited to the White House for dinner on Wednesday. The only thing Woods shared Tuesday on Twitter was a link to a video commercial of himself with Shaquille O'Neal engaging in something called “Golf-Fu'' for EA Sports.
Some observers suggested McIlroy shared more about himself in 15 minutes of a press conference last week than Woods had in 15 years.
It doesn't matter.
Woods remains golf's most compelling figure, whether people want to see him return to glory or continue to flounder.
Proof of that was an email that an Australian man sent to The Associated Press to say the Miami-Dade police department had been alerted to a pair of traffic violations by the 14-time major champion.
The man said Woods was seen sending a text on his mobile phone while driving away from Doral, and that the footage was sent out to a worldwide audience. And that's not all.
“Mr. Woods was constantly changing lanes whilst sending the text message and failed to indicate to the other drivers (indicators in Australia are the little orange lights on each corner of your vehicle),'' the email said. “I am confident that your legislation is similar to ours in regards to their use.''
So we've gone from TV viewers calling in potential rules infractions to traffic violations?
Such is the life of Tiger Woods.
He brought this on himself by winning the Masters by 12 shots at age 21; winning the career Grand Slam when he was 24, then repeating the feat twice more; winning one U.S. Open by 15 shots and another on a shattered left leg; bringing in so many endorsements that his career earnings were in the neighborhood of $1 billion. And that was before one of the greatest downfalls in sports.
Woods feels as though there is a double standard, and he's right.
But what does he expect? Who else from his generation has a body of work that's even remotely comparable? And yet he sounded as though he were searching for sympathy two weeks ago at the Honda Classic when he said Nicklaus would have been under a similar microscope if Nicklaus had been part of this media era.
“It's just a different deal, and I know that a lot of people don't get the same analysis with their games that I do,'' Woods said. “But it's been that way since I turned pro.''
It probably will stay that way until he retires. Goydos said as much four years ago in Hawaii, when asked when Woods no longer would be considered golf's top attraction.
“When Tiger decides he's not going to play,'' he said.