Knowing when to say when: Tiger Woods


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ORLANDO, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 20: Tiger Woods of the United States and son Charlie Woods fist bump on the 18th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club on December 20, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The once-thought unbeatable Tiger Woods is 47 years old. He is arguably the undisputed greatest golfer of all time. However, his most recent injury of the many that he has had in recent years and his lack of winning begs to ask the question: Is it time for him to retire?

Tiger turned pro in 1996 at the age of 20 years old. He then went on to win two events that summer. Since that point, he has won seventy-none other times. Even with his historic win total and utter domination while playing, injuries have unfortunately plagued his career. He had his first back surgery in 2014 followed by two more in 2015 and a fourth in 2017. After this stretch of injuries and painful golf, many thought he would be done for good.

Despite what everyone thought, Tiger made his return in 2018 and considered himself a “walking miracle.” That year, he won the PGA Championship, his 80th PGA Tour win and first one in five years. The next year, he went on to win the Masters as well. In the following years, he sporadically competed here and there in different events while slowing down the frequency of his starts and the rigor of his schedule.

At this point in Tiger’s life, he was the greatest golfer of all time. He had achieved all there was to achieve. There was nothing more he needed to do, except for one thing: playing a PGA Tour event with his son.

In 2020, Tiger played in the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie. They finished seventh as a pair. Tiger said, “I’m playing as a Dad and couldn’t be more excited and proud.” It was obvious this was likely his favorite tournament in his history, which is saying a lot.

Everything was going well, and it seemed a peaceful retirement was in the near future for Tiger. However, in February of 2021, Tiger Woods flipped and rolled his car off of a cliff and broke both his legs. He underwent surgery to fix both broken ankles. Doctors said he wasn’t going to be able to walk again for three months. He went through extensive physical therapy just to walk again. It took him nine months before he hit his first golf ball after the crash.

At this point in an athlete’s career, he or she wants to walk away on his or her own terms. But sometimes, it’s not an option. Tiger has accomplished everything. He has nothing else to prove. This would have been a perfect opportunity to write the final chapter in the book known as Tiger’s professional career.

In December of 2021, almost a year after the crash, Tiger once again played in the PNC Championship with Charlie. Tiger rode in a cart the entire way, but this was an incredible comeback from a should-be career-ending injury. Then, in April 2022, 508 days after the accident, Tiger Woods played in the first round of the Masters.

Tiger is still not one hundred percent, and who knows if he will ever be again, but he is still playing. The new proposed question is: Should he still be playing? The clear-cut answer is yes, but in a very particular way. He needs to slow down for his own health, but on the other hand, he enjoys playing with his son. He can do both. He can do nothing wrong, but the chance for him to physically harm himself seems just too high for him to play competitively again. He should stick to friendly events and simply play to enjoy the game. He has given the game his life, and now he deserves to enjoy it.