Golf Betting: Has Tiger Woods just effectively ended his career?

Moment of truth? Tiger Woods says seeing Ryder Cup stars made him realise he wasn't ready
Moment of truth? Tiger Woods says seeing Ryder Cup stars made him realise he wasn't ready

Golf's greatest icon Tiger Woods has put his comeback on hold by withdrawing from the Safeway Open. Ralph Ellis fears we may never see him play a competitive event again...


"It is a shattering blow for the organisers and sponsors of the Safeway Open. Ticket sales had more than doubled on the promise that Woods had been scheduled to play the first two rounds alongside Phil Mickelson."

There's one question for Tiger Woods: If not now, then when? And the more you look at his dramatic withdrawal last night from the Safeway Open, the more you have to conclude that the answer will be never.

It was only 72 hours earlier that the 40-year-old who was the face of golf for the final years of the last century and the first decade of this one was set on making his return. Friday. That's when he confirmed he'd play in the first tournament of the 2016-17 PGA season, set in the beautiful wine growing region of the Napa Valley.

He'd talked about how sharing the USA's Ryder Cup triumph had filled him with the desire to play again. As one of Davis Love's vice-captains he'd been totally absorbed in the contest. No doubt he was dreaming that come next Spring in Augusta he could yet win another Masters.

By Monday he was telling the world that seeing those same team mates perform at Hazeltine had made him realise his game wasn't ready to take on the best. Not only has he withdrawn from this week's event, he has scratched from next month's Turkish Airlines Open too.

It is a shattering blow for the organisers and sponsors of the Safeway Open, and even more so for the fans who wanted to see Tiger's first competitive appearance in nearly 15 months. Ticket sales had more than doubled on the promise that Woods had been scheduled to play the first two rounds alongside Phil Mickelson.

But it is an even bigger boot in the nether region for the sport as a whole because it is reaching the point where you think the man who took golf to a whole new worldwide audience has reached the end of the road.

After all it is only a few weeks since his friend Jesper Parnevik was giving rave reviews about Tiger's work on the range. "He's pounding it a mile and flushing everything," he said.

But as we know, golf isn't just about how far you can hit it, but about all the little chips and putts, the soft hands and feel around the greens. That was the part of the game that had collapsed the last time Woods tried to play, and the implication is that is now the part of the game that won't come back.

He's only 40, for heaven's sakes. Mickelson, while I take on board the Punter's concerns about him in yet another detailed and excellent preview, looks a useful bet for the Safeway at 19.018/1. Yet he is six years older and still going strong.

The difference is that Lefty has kept working and playing all the time, while Woods has to fight back now from six months of barely being able to walk, let alone play golf, because of his latest back surgery.

Over the years I've talked to hundreds of retired sports stars and they all tell you that it wasn't the physical effort of their sport that made them retire. It was that they didn't any longer have the mental energy to do the work and practice needed to keep their game sharp enough to stay at the top.

If Woods doesn't think he can be ready for an event in a month's time, you suspect he can't face the amount of practice hours needed. And, to go back to the original question, if he's not ready to do that now, then will he ever be?


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