OK, so I was raving about Tiger’s performance on Saturday in the third round of the U.S. Open because of how well he played despite a knee injury that was killing him. Skeptics said he was faking it, and so did fellow players on tour, most notably Retief Goosen. I saw the pained look on his face and knew all wasn’t kosher. That feeling was confirmed as the news dropped on Wednesday that Tiger’s done for the year to get reconstructive surgery on his knee. So this much we do know: Tiger Woods won a major playing on a bum knee with a ruptured ACL and double stress fractures as the result of the arthroscopic surgery recovery. That part makes him courageous. But what might make him foolish was his decision to commit to playing the tournament rather than keep himself on the shelf. According to swing coach Hank Haney, not only was Tiger aware he should not have been playing, but he also called his shot:
“The week of Memorial [two weeks before the Open], I thought there was no chance he could play,” Haney said in a telephone interview from his home in Texas. “The doctors told him he needed to be on crutches for three weeks and then three more weeks of inactivity, and then you start rehabbing.
“But Tiger looked the guy in the eye and said, ‘I’m playing in the U.S. Open and I’m going to win.’ Then he started putting on his shoes and told me we’re going to go practice. It’s just incredible.”
OK, so there’s the legend. And Tiger did make it worth his while because he won. But was this in hindsight a foolish move, knowing what we know now — that he was going against doctors’ advice? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a player go against doctor advice, and doctors don’t always have the right assessment (many seek second opinions). Still, despite the heroics, maybe it wasn’t worth it in the long run to do what Tiger did. Hopefully his career won’t be cut short by this knee injury. And truthfully, we’ll never know how much this particular choice impacted his injury. For all we know, he could have shredded his knee down the line anyway.
(Photo Courtesy Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)