Philadelphia, PA – After a huge leap forward last Sunday with round 62 at the Honda Classic, Tiger Woods must have landed awkwardly after said leap.
Fast forward one week and Woods walked off Doral after 11 holes of the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He left, only telling a PGA Tour media official it was a left leg injury.
Later, Woods released a statement, which read: "I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse. After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw. In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary. I will get my Achilles evaluated sometime early next week."
Left leg injuries are Woods' Everest.
In the released excerpt of Hank Haney's book, "The Big Miss," Haney stated that, "To preserve his knee, Tiger wanted some flex in his left leg at impact." The left leg was a source of trouble for some time, and this certainly won't help.
Until we hear the extent of the injury, we don't know where Woods stands. There are two possible scenarios in play.
The first one we will call the "don't worry about." The doctor tells Woods his left Achilles injury is a mild strain and he should ice it for a week, then he'll be good as new.
Granted, there's minimal chance he plays in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks after Sunday's withdrawal. That means we'll next see Tiger at the Masters.
This is the less significant path, but at this stage in Woods' career, everything adds up. Woods has had four surgeries on his knee already and he's only 36 years old.
Body-wise, despite years of intense training, Woods is a very old 36. Aside from the knee injuries, he's hurt his neck and his Achilles before. Last year, Tiger missed the U.S. Open and Open Championship after hurting his knee at The Masters.
Any tweak at this point also derails his work on the course.
The biggest thing that has impacted Woods post-scandal isn't the media scrutiny or horrendous putting displays or swing changes. What has set Woods back the most in the last three years is that he hasn't been able to practice the new swing philosophy implemented by Sean Foley.
A week away would hurt his progress, but scenario B is terrifying.
That's the one where there's some damage to the Achilles and Woods has to miss a meaningful period of time.
Say Woods has to miss two months.
He will miss The Masters and maybe The Players Championship. The first will crush him, the second will annoy him in the same manner as a itchy mosquito bite.
If he can't work on the swing for six weeks, the woes will extend through the rest of the major championships.
Tinkering with his swing in the summer swelter will be fine, but he's clearly not a player who's so very close to being at a No. 1 player level. Woods needs all the work he can get at this point and a prolonged absence would be catastrophic to his preparation.
The bigger question, no matter the severity of this setback, might be more troubling.
Is Woods already at a stage in his career where one hard swing can cause such a potentially physical setback?
It seems accurate to say at this point Woods' ultimate goal - the pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 - will have more to do with his body.
He's headed toward his 40th birthday and the work ethic, legendary as it is, will slow some.
This will be a major mental hurdle for Woods. He's said for a long time that not being able to practice was the biggest obstacle to his return to glory.
Most chose not to believe him, but he was right.
Just one week from a brilliant exhibition of his old self, Woods went down. He said on Saturday, when asked about how his body was holding up after three straight weeks of competition, Woods replied, "Oh, it feels great."
He was wrong.
When Woods finally returns, he will struggle.
Inevitably, he will definitely show some glimpse of dominance again. But when he makes a huge leap, just land softer this time.
- Bubba Watson needs a lot of help with the mental side of things. He dismissed the idea of a sports psychologist Saturday night, then went out and looked more nervous than a kid asking a girl to his first dance.
Always one of the slowest players, Bubba hurried on Sunday. He basically talked himself out of this title by saying that he didn't understand how to play Doral. His mind-set is always interesting. He's like a younger Phil Mickelson in that Watson will go for it, but his play on Sunday at Doral was troubling.
Watson needs to believe in himself a little more and minimize distractions.
- Gil Hanse won the bid to design the course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While not a big name outside the industry, he's been universally praised as the choice.
It's a pretty remarkable choice since he was up against Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Gary Player and Robert Trent Jones II.
- Wonder if Annika will call the Ladies European Tour and tell them she's suddenly available for the 2013 Solheim Cup captaincy?
- A lot was made of Justin Rose's career path upwards after his win Sunday. It seemed like hogwash until you really think about it. Two wins in 2010 - The Memorial and the AT&T National on tough courses - then a playoff win last year. Now Rose has a WGC title, so a major is next to follow, right?
- I picked my national champion in the NCAA field about four months ago. Kentucky will win, beat Syracuse with Michigan State and Kansas in the Final Four.
- MOVIE MOMENT - Caught "Game Change" on HBO Saturday night. It's decent, not great, but got me thinking about something: is Woody Harrelson underrated? Two Oscar nominations isn't bad for someone with sitcom success and a bigger reputation for hemp (cough) rights than acting? Throw in some of the comedies like "Kingpin" and "White Men Can't Jump" and you have a pretty strong body of work.