Of course, no one knows what lies ahead for Tiger Woods in the wake of his horrific accident on Tuesday and the long, complicated surgery that followed.
The unanimous sentiment around golf is for Woods to recover as quickly as possible and be maintain his quality of life with his two children.
But what the accident has done is push the reality of golf without Woods completing closer to the surface.
When Rory McIlroy was asked on Wednesday in advance of this week’s WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession in Florida, if he believes Woods, of all people, can come back from this, he said, “He’s not Superman. He’s a human being at the end of the day, and he’s already been through so much.
“At this stage, I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now. It’s not even on the map at this point.’’
McIlroy, who’s become close friends with Woods, did acknowledge that the game has been reaching a point where Woods, who’s 45, would no longer be competing.
“We were all sort of heading in that direction where Tiger wasn’t going to be a part of the game,’’ McIlroy said. “I’m not saying that was soon. Before this accident, he was rehabbing a back injury and hopefully going to come back and play this year. But it’s inevitable that one day he won’t be a part of it, and that’s something that the game of golf and the Tour is going to have to adapt to.’’
Woods played only three tournaments in 2021 and seven in 2020. Since 2016, he’s played in only 41 tournaments in six years. He hasn’t played 20 or more events since 2005.
“Hopefully, he comes back and is able to play, but if he’s not (able to), I think he’ll still be a part of the game in some way, whether it’s design business, his foundation and hosting golf tournaments,’’ McIlroy said. “It may be the end of seeing the genius at work with a club in his hand, but there’s still a lot of other ways that he can affect the game in a great way.’’
Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, on Wednesday called Woods “such a big part of the PGA Tour and what it’s become today, once he’s not playing anymore the game will miss him, but I feel like he’ll always somehow be around and involved with the game.’’
McIlroy seemed uncomfortable with the news coverage of Woods’ accident and some of the questions surrounding it, because he said it made it sound like Woods didn’t survive the crash.
“He’s here, he’s fine, he’s got some pretty bad injuries, but he’s going to be OK,’’ McIlroy said. “I was looking at some of the coverage (Tuesday) and they were talking as if he’s gone. He was in a car crash, it was really bad, he’s real fortunate to (still) be here, which is great. But that’s the extent of it.’’
Then came a question from a reporter asking how players can “pay tribute’’ to Woods at this week’s tournament.
“Pay tribute to him … he’s not gone,’’ McIlroy said. “He’s been in a very bad accident. We’re lucky that he’s still here. We should pay tribute to him every day for being in the PGA Tour and what he’s done for golf.’’