Another hyped event, another dismal performance from Tiger Woods: Tiger withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic this past weekend. Well, actually, Tiger never made it to the weekend, withdrawing Friday morning after shooting an opening round 77, five shots over par.
Tiger pulled out of the event after missing the cut at The Farmers Insurance Open the week prior, an event hosted by Torrey Pines. He previously won at that venue a record eight times, including during a U.S. Open in 2008. His last major championship victory was that event, almost nine years ago.
Tiger was and still is scheduled to play four events in five weeks, but perhaps that will change after he cited back spasms as his reason for withdrawal in Dubai. He is scheduled to start at the Genesis Open (Feb. 16-19) and then will play the following week at the Honda Classic as the “Florida Swing” begins, the kick-off to full fields as major championship prep begins for all players.
Tiger should do us all a favor and not show up in LA for the Genesis Open. He has become a distraction for the sport. He is not needed anymore, and the days where Tiger was here to “Make Golf Great Again” are long gone.
The man hasn’t won on tour since 2013, and hasn’t been in a competitive position in a tournament since August 2015. He has dropped in the World Ranking to number 674th, down eight more spots this week.
I will not, nor should anyone for that matter, try to make an argument against what Tiger has done for the game. He has brought a mass of money, swag, money, some money and a little bit more money to the game. Per PGAtour.com, from 1990-1996 b.t. (before Tiger), the total prize money increased from $82 million to $101 million, about 3% per year. From 1996-2008 d.t (during Tiger), the total prize money increased to $292 million, or about 9% per year. Tiger brought excitement to the game, and because of that excitement, ratings. Golf viewership and thus corporate sponsorship skyrocketed and first-place prizes jumped from less than $200k to well over $1 million.
But, besides money, Tiger made golf fun. He made it youthful and athletic and really turned it into a sport. He inspired a generation of young golfers to play the game. The problem for Tiger now is that that young generation has completely usurped his throne and is dominating the sport. Players like Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and many others have taken the game by storm and are so much fun to watch.
Tiger needs to get out of the game. He needs to stop being a distraction. He needs to stop absorbing any spotlight that could be shone on the young stars of the game.
It was often a common theme when Tiger would come back from an injury or from his personal life issues that the game needed him. That he made the game better. Was this true from 1996-2013? Yes. But what about now? Does the game need Tiger Woods?