Maybe this is how it happens.
Not with some emotional farewell performance or one last major championship trophy but with Tiger Woods unable to see the light any more.
Anyone hoping that Woods would tell the world he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from a third back surgery in less than two years found out otherwise Tuesday. There is no early Christmas present. No promise of playing The Masters in April. No sense of what’s next.
“Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know,” Woods said.
Through all of Woods’ various physical challenges there always has been a target date, a moment when he returns and restarts his career.
Answering questions in the Bahamas on Tuesday, Woods offered none of that. It may be too much to call Woods’ self-assessment grim but it’s fair to say it was discouraging.
For several years, we’ve understood that Woods is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he didn’t seem so close to the end as it sounded and felt this time.
He’s won 79 PGA Tour events, three shy of tying Sam Snead’s all-time record. He’s won 14 major championships, four shy of tying Jack Nicklaus’s record. Once, those seemed certain to fall. Not any more.
“I think anything beyond this will be gravy,” Woods said in assessing his career just shy of his 40th birthday.
He has had three back surgeries for the same problem and he doesn’t know when he can hit golf balls again. Woods said he hasn’t hit a ball in more than two months and the good vibes he felt at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. (while dealing with shooting pain in his hip related to the nerve problem in his back) are a fading memory.
“I really enjoyed what I did at Greensboro. That was fun,” said Woods, who had the 36-hole lead before tying for 10th.
There’s not been much fun since. He wants to play soccer with his kids but he can’t bend over.
“I’m not athletic,” Woods said. “I’d like to do that first. If I do that, we can start talking about golf.”