Tiger Woods winces in pain only during bad shots at The Barclays, even falling to ground after one really bad shot #PostHGHFullBodyBreakdown

There’s no question about it, Tiger Woods is the best player on the planet and may go ultimately go down as the best player in the history of our beloved sport.  On a different note, one all-time title that surely can already be awarded, is that Tiger is the best player ever at letting us all know when he’s hurt (note the distinction between “letting us know that he’s hurt” and “playing while he’s hurt”).  This past week at the Barclays, we were served up another full dose of Tiger and his painful antics (pun definitely intended).

This week’s story broke after Tiger refrained from any full swings and only chipped and putted on the back 9 of Wednesday’s pro-am as a precaution following a stiff back that he claims stemmed from a “soft hotel bed.”  Recall that this isn’t the first time that Tiger has made such claims and also keep in mind that Tiger practically has the GDP of Guatemala in liquid cash sitting in his bank account, so the thought of him sleeping on some regular queen at the Ritz Carlton just seems hilariously off mark to me.

Following Wednesday’s precaution, Tiger was his typical self all week on the course.  You know, staring down good shots with an accompanying club twirl and wincing in horrific pain with each bad one.  It’s just amazing how the back only seems to hurt following bad shots….

Then came Sunday, where a front nine charge left Tiger just one stroke off the lead heading through the turn when suddenly, the bogeys started flying and the back started “hurting” (in that order).  The worst moment came on the par 5 13th, when after a smothered pull jobbed 3-wood, Tiger fell to the ground in pain, ending up on all fours after the shot splashed into the mossy hazard (see video below).  A failed up and down par save there, followed by a third bogey in a six hole stretch on the 15th all but ended his chances.  That is of course until Tiger miraculously found the strength, will and courage to birdie both 16 + 17, and with one more half revolution on his putt from the fringe on the 18th, he would’ve been in a playoff for the title with Steve Williams (woops, I mean Adam Scott).

Ok, ok, ok, yes, I realize I’m taking some major stabs at “he who is without peer.”  Do I believe that Tiger was/is actually in real pain?  Yes, absolutely.  While there’s certainly some Oscar-worthy acting going on inside those ropes following only bad shots, there’s clearly some actual throbbing going on there too.  So, why do I poke such fun at the situation?  Easy- it was just all too predictable.

Let’s rewind back to Tiger’s amateur days- think back to his free-bowl-of-soup straw hat from when he won the U.S. Amateur at TPC Sawgrass in ’94.  Just picture that scrawny little frame, I mean the kid was practically two-dimensional back then.  Fast forward three years to the ’97 Masters and yep, still Mr King Cobra string-bean.  Now let’s jump ahead to the infamous Tiger Slam years of ’00 and ’01 and ok, there was perhaps a noticeable fitness routine accompanied with some strength building, but it was still mostly baggy shirts and hidden elbows beneath those Nike swooshes.

Then, in the years of ’03-’05, the juice began pumping.  Those chicken wing shoulder blades became throttled masses of muscle and those biceps suddenly began causing those swooshes on the sleeves to bulge through the seams.  Gone was the whipper snapping long past-parallel backswing and in was the machine-like super-sized other-worldly robot formerly known as Eldrick.  It’s as if someone stole his scrawny avatar from EA Sports, injected it with a suitcase full of steroids and used it to replace his real life body.

All-too predictably, then the injuries happened.   A quick laundry list of El Tigre’s injuries from  ’07 to present:

– July ’07- Ruptures ACL in left knee while running
– April ’08- Two days after t-2nd at the Masters, has arthroscopic surgery on left knee to repair torn cartilage. Misses Quail Hollow, PLAYERS and Memorial.
– June ’08- Advised in weeks prior to U.S. Open he has two stress fractures of the left tibia, plays in U.S. Open and wins, then has operation to again repair ACL in left knee. Misses remainder of season, out for eight months.
– Dec ’08- Ruptures Achilles in right leg
– May ’10- WD’s during final round of the PLAYERS Championship with inflammation of joint in the neck.
– Dec ’10- Has cortisone shot in right ankle due to soreness of Achilles
– April ’11- Sprains MCL in left knee and left Achilles during shot from under Eisenhower Tree on 17th hole of the Masters, skips Quail Hollow.
– May ’11- Shoots front nine 42 at the PLAYERS and WD’s citing lingering pain from Masters injuries, also misses U.S. Open.
– March ’12- WD’s during final round of WGC-Cadillas Championship at Doral due to left Achilles issue
– June ’13- Reveals he injured left elbow during this year’s PLAYERS, re-aggravated during U.S. Open at Merion. Misses AT&T National.

Now, I’m no medical professional, but that right there is a plethora of injuries in a 6-year span, especially for someone in their mid 30’s.  In fact, Tiger has missed at least one tournament due to injury every year since 2006 and Sunday certainly was another indication that trend only seems to be worsening.

It’d be one thing if it was a continual, repetitive injury that was plaguing him.  Say, oh, like Fred Couples and his ever-aching back.  Except that wait, for Tiger, it’s been practically everything from head-to-toe, and I mean everything (see Escalade vs fire hydrant and the news that followed from ’09).

What does this all mean?  Those that know me or follow me on twitter know that I’ve been firmly saying that Tiger was on PEDs for years now.  A guy doesn’t just completely transform his entire body’s shape and build like Tiger has and nor does a guy just start physically breaking down like that full body without injecting extreme foreign substances into their innards.

A couple of years back, Tiger was linked to Canadian Sports doctor Anthony Galea saying that he “received treatment” from him, but supposedly never received any PEDs from him.  This is the same doctor who was linked to ARod, Jamal Lewis, Takeo Spikes and other sketchy characters from other sports.  The fact that Tiger chose to receive treatment from such a questionably shady individual is just way too much of a coincidence, as someone with Tiger’s stature and financial ability never would associate themselves with such a person if there wasn’t some true shady business going on.  Note that Dr Galea eventually pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into the U.S. and administering them to athletes and of course, hasn’t worked with Tiger since.

But the PGA Tour has drug testing, right?  Well, not for a player who is bigger than the game and who has lined commisioner Tim Finchem’s pockets so extensively (note that the Tour’s policy is to not release results of any drug tests or suspensions).

I’m not sure when this story will break large scale and I don’t know to what level of detail we’ll ever truly know the real truth on Tiger.  But for now and for the near future, expect that laundry list of injuries to continue to explode off the page and for Tiger’s playing schedule to be affected by his previous PED usage (predicting right here that he’ll find a way for his injury to cause him to miss this year’s Presidents Cup #HatesIt).

Maybe he should just resume using PEDs so that he can heal more quickly and actually stay healthy…oh wait, I better not even go there.

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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