When is it time for a golfer to retire? Tiger, other legends ponder

Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 4:11 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods is putting his surgically repaired right leg to the test in seeking his sixth green jacket at the Masters.

Woods is competing at a major level for the first time since severely injuring his leg in a car accident in February 2021.


The injuries were so bad that doctors considered amputating the leg.

Instead, they repaired it, and he’s been working hard at trying to get back to a competitive level.

He thinks he can do it, despite being off the competitive golf scene except for the PNC Challenge with his son Charlie.

He was on the Masters player list but kept the world in suspense until a couple of days ago over whether he’d compete.

He ultimately said not only would he compete but that he could win.

It’s never been a question about whether he could swing well enough to win. It was whether he could handle walking a golf course famous for its undulating topography.

“I can hit it just fine. I don’t have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It’s now walking is the hard part,” he said a couple of days ago.

“You know, 72 holes is a long road, and it’s going to be a tough challenge, and a challenge that I’m up for.”

Woods says he wouldn’t be at Augusta National this week if he didn’t think he could win.

“I love competing, and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I’m going to, and if I feel like I can still win, I’m going to play. But if I feel like I can’t, then you won’t see me out here,” Woods said.

“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it. So that’s the attitude I’ve had. There will be a day when it won’t happen, and I’ll know when that is, but physically the challenge this week is I don’t have to worry about the ball striking or the game of golf; it’s actually just the hills out here.”

Woods first played in the Masters in 1995 at age 19, and if he wins this year, he’d actually be the oldest victor ever at 46.

Woods’ reflections have brought support for him as well as self-introspection among the golfers at Augusta National.

The question of when to call it quits was batted around by honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson during a news conference Thursday morning.

Watson said his decision to retire was pretty easy.

“I knew I couldn’t compete anymore. I couldn’t hit the ball far enough, and it was time. ... When you can’t compete, there’s no sense in being on the golf course and taking up a spot for somebody else,” he said. “That’s the way I looked at it.”

Player said he retired because “there’s nothing worse than seeing a punch-drunk boxer and athletes try and make comebacks.”

Still, Player thinks Woods will bounce back.

“Here was a man who was not good — phenomenal,” he said.

“Have you seen physically how he is? He’s a workaholic with his body, and he could come back. Wouldn’t surprise me if Tiger came back and won a major.”

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