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Loughran: Tiger’s back threatens Masters (Mar. 20)

| Thursday, March 20, 2014

You might have heard that Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday. Although, amidst all the March Madness hype, I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed it.

Withdrawing from one tournament may seem trivial, but for the world’s No. 1 golfer, it has huge implications. Tiger backed out of the tournament because of severe back spasms, and for a 38-year-old in fervent pursuit of another Masters title, well, this doesn’t look too good. Especially given the fact that Tiger not only is last year’s defending Arnold Palmer Invitational champion, but also has won this tournament eight times since 2000.

It also doesn’t help that the Masters is just three weeks away. Can the ailing Tiger still compete in golf’s biggest championships?

Tiger had to withdraw after 13 holes in the third round of the Honda Classic on March 2. Then, the next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Doral, he shot a fourth-round 78 — the worst final-round score of his professional career. He couldn’t even grab his ball out of the cup — the caddies had to do that for him.

And, now, less than two weeks later, Tiger can’t play Bay Hill — a course he clearly dominates.

Woods has only played in four tournaments this year, and after returning from an offseason that was intended to help his injured back, his upcoming Masters appearance resembles a long-drive hit clear off the fairway and deep into the rough. Can he get his ball back on the green in time for Augusta?

While Augusta is obviously Tiger’s biggest concern at the moment, his increasing back spasms threaten an even greater goal: his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record.

Since he won the U.S. Open in 2008, Tiger has been stuck on 14 major titles. This puts him just four majors behind Nicklaus’ 18. I might say “just” four, but with Tiger’s ailing back problems that four is beginning to look more and more elusive.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer, though, believes Tiger’s pursuit of Nicklaus is still alive. Palmer might have won the last of his seven major titles at the age of 33 at the 1964 Masters, but that doesn’t mean that Tiger can’t keep on track to victory at 38. Take Nicklaus, who clinched four titles in his 40s, and Ben Hogan, who won three out of his nine titles in his 40s as well. The only difference between them and Tiger is that they did not have severe back problems that threatened to keep them from playing in majors.

Even though Tiger’s back might have forced him to pass up the opportunity to win at Bay Hill for the ninth time, he clearly has his priorities set on trying to earn his fifth green jacket. For Tiger’s sake, let’s hope it’s not his back that ruins his shot at Augusta and his 15th title.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


About Kit Loughran

My name is Kit Loughran, and I am a senior at the University of Notre Dame. I am a Marketing major and Journalism minor. I write for the Sports Department of The Observer and cover Men's Soccer, Lacrosse, and Golf.

Contact Kit
  • Sean Long

    Dear kit,

    Wow Kit you hit a whole in one with this one – it really has everything news, sports and a viewpoint – to really get it going.

    like m&m said “Baby got back [problems]” and I guess taht applies to tiger here too. if I were him I would focus on my back but also the masters because both are important but both together is even more important. so I guess you want both but can you get them? that is the question 🙂

    I guess theres no way to know though

    B) what would you do in his place? If he wants 18 masters rings hes got to earn it just like everyone else and I don’t support just giving it to him because does he deserve it if he doesn’t win fair and square I don’t think so lol

    I guess we have to wait till pebbles beach to see if he’s got what to takes to beat the buzzer (as they say in golf there is no beating a buzzer-beater haha)

    If you need anything hmu

    -Sean K Long

    • Sean Long

      Kit! how are you doing

      It’s me again (Sean long) and I’m doing great

      I wanted to let you know that tigger is not playing the Masters because his back is getting a surgery so I guess its like they say only the good die young and i don’t know if anyone is saying timber but i think his career is going down (the toilet hahahah do you get it).

      anyway here is the link if you want to look at it http://news.yahoo.com/woods-ruled-u-masters-due-injury-160712016–golf.html

      do you think this is an april fools joke? I think we just have to wait and see even though we dont want to I’ll try to google his phone number and shoot him a BBM aand then I’ll let you know

      I’ld love to hear youre thoughts on Tiger and if he’s got what it takes to make the comeback but me I don’t think so becuase he’s not

      LOL (lots of love ;))