Tiger Woods No Longer #1 (Well, Maybe)

He won a major this year. He won a major with a hurt leg. He actually won a major with a broken leg according to the doctors. I mean, it was not as broken as you might picture a broken leg but his leg was in some serious career ending danger. And that was what some of us thought when he dropped out not even half way through the 2008 season to pursue yet another knee surgery. Number 6 to be exact, on the same knee. And he just turned 32. If that is not cause for concern for the next 20 years of his career, I don’t know what is.

So Tiger decided to have surgery and take the rest of the season off. He even missed some events that he hosted due to his doctors advice to not fly. (Of course he could have drove, but I understand how that might be awkward when you own a private jet and might not even own a license.) So he missed the entire second half of the year and taking him out of contention to defend his FedEx Cup that he won in it’s inaugural year and also taking him out of the contention to win player of the year yet again. I am not even sure what the last year he didn’t win that. And the guy that did win that, even if Tiger had played this year, deserved it.

So Tiger, sitting out for more months than my TV can be off the Golf Channel, is sitting and waiting for the next season to come into play. He won’t play very much, if at all, before the Masters. I am not even sure he has decided for certain that he will be playing the Masters, but if you know an ounce about Tiger he will be in Augusta this spring. (How crazy would that be? He sits out all this season pretty much and then comes back and wins his first major since his surgery. Yeah, you and I both know that is not too far from possible.

But the point of this is to not share my passion and desire for this man, it is to talk about the fact he is nearing the chance at loosing his number 1 world golf ranking. This is one he has held for over 500 weeks in a row (yeah, that is a lot of weeks) and is within 4 points of loosing it to Sergio Garcia. Now, that in itself is a shock to me. I mean, even though Tiger is not playing does not mean I do not follow golf. But Sergio is not that good. OK, I take that back. He is good. He is not good enough to be the best player in the world. For a guy that has never won a major, and never will until he learns to putt the ball, he does not deserve the number one world ranking. I mean, neither does Phil, Vijay, Ernie, or Rocco. I mean, Phil can not put together two weeks in a row without a missed cut. Ernie has not done anything since he had surgery a few years ago. Vijah has hot and cold steaks between a short putter and a long putter. (The long putter, though, is cheating. I will argue that until the day I die. Or at least the day I put one in my bag.) Rocco is good, but he is not consistent. He is more consistent than Phil.

Anyway, Sergio does not deserve to hold the highest rank in golf until I see a major in his hands. But it is a real possibility. Sergio is within a little over 3 points from catching Tiger. Now, that in itself (I say that a lot, huh?) says something to Tiger. Of course, there are haters out there that say Tiger should not have the title if he is not playing. But yeah, I think he should. First off, Tiger only plays a few tournaments a year (compared to guys like Vijay that play ever single week) and he still manages to hold that spot. And he spent 4 months off tour this year sitting at home resting and not even swinging a club and still has enough points to hold that title. He deserved to get it in the first place. And he deserves to keep it until someone else takes it over.

And the great thing about Tiger is that if he was to loose it he would not care. Well, he would care, but he would not be upset about it. He will smile, hold a press conference (again, all assuming he does loose it) and congratulate Sergio on his accomplishment. But, he will come out of the gate and take that title back in a few months of being back on the links. And the great thing about that is that Tiger has been hitting balls. He has been hitting for a few weeks now. And according to him and Steve Williams he is hitting the ball better than he ever has. His doctors have said he is at 100% and will be able to walk further with more stamina. Now, does this scare anyone? Because it scares the crap out of me. (Not the “ghosts at Halloween” kind of scare. But the “you are telling me Tiger is getting better” kind of scare.)

Tiger is 33 years old. Well, he will be on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008. But that is tomorrow so it is close enough. (How do you think a guy that is worth over $500 million celebrates his birthday?) To be as good as he is and have won as many times as he has it scares the crap out of me to think what everyone else that is playing will do. I have faith that when Tiger comes back, and you can give him two, maybe three years to prepare himself for that one huge year (I had always thought it would be 2010 though. He has Augusta for the Masters. He has Pebble for the Open. He has St. Andrews for the British) he can win all four majors in one year. It has never been done before in the history of golf. And there will never be someone that will be able to do it in the future. If Tiger does not do it it will never be done. Period.