Today (December 30, if you’re reading this blog the day it’s posted) is Tiger Woods’ 46thbirthday. The same age at which Jack Nicklaus won his last major championship, the 1986 Masters. That won’t be happening for Woods. 

Earlier this month he hosted but did not play in the Hero Challenge in the Bahamas and then did play with his 12-year-old son, Charlie, in the 36-hole PNC Championship in Florida. They finished second, two shots behind John and John Daly, charging through the field with 11 consecutive birdies in one stretch. But it’s one thing to do that, quite another to play tournament golf even close to the stratospheric level Tiger’s game used to be capable of producing. That’s what near-fatal car crashes can do to you.

If we believe what he says, Woods is relaxed about this scenario. Maybe no shock there, given that the amputation of his right leg had been a strong possibility after his horrendous car crash in Los Angeles last February. “I got that last major,” he said, referring to the 2019 Masters, which he won almost 11 years after his previous major. “I don’t foresee this leg ever being what it used to be and the clock is ticking. I don’t have the desire to do all that [work anymore]. I have made the climb enough times.” Even if he wouldn’t be able to be competitive, he hopes to play in the Open in July. “I would love to play at St Andrews, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “It’s my favourite golf course in the world. Physically, I hope I can. The tournament is not going to go anywhere but I need to get there.”

What Woods will not talk about is the crash itself, which fortunately involved no other vehicle and came when he was driving at between 84 and 87 mph in a 45 mph limit. A police officer told reporters in April that Woods had applied almost full pressure to the accelerator and none to the brake. It surely must have been a potentially catastrophic error; he was reportedly running late for a film shoot, but Tiger Woods doesn’t rush for anyone. Film shoots wait for him. Woods said: “People are going to poke and prod and want to know more about my business. I understand that. They can poke and prod at me all they want. Just stay away from my family.” An odd thing to say: until he just did, no one had involved his family in the incident of the accident. 

There is nothing funny about a huge car crash but there was an amusing touch to the fact that Woods told the California police who were first on the scene that he thought he was home in Florida. In May 2017, after being arrested by police while asleep at the wheel of his stationary car with five drugs (but no alcohol) in his system, he was in Florida but apparently thought he was in California. Whatever, remarkably, within two more years he would be winning big again in Georgia.

The facts would suggest that while Woods, with 15 majors, has no chance of catching Nicklaus on 18, he is also likely remain tied with Sam Snead on 82 PGA Tour titles. Or might there be one more miracle left?

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