There were times when we all wondered if Tiger Woods was superhuman.
He had to be, right?
There was no way someone could be that dominant, that locked in, that good … and tie his shoelaces the way everyone else did.
He was Superman with a sand wedge.
There was a time, in the height of his golfing career, where it was Tiger Woods against the field, and you did not bet against the man who wore red on Sunday.
Then, we all know what happened.
His kryptonite — among other things we won’t discuss in this space — sent him on a downward spiral on and off the golf course.
Mentally and physically, he was in trouble.
His game suffered tremendously. His body wasn’t the same. His knees and his back betrayed him and proved he was just like the rest of us after all.
That he could skull a 3-wood, chili dip a 7-iron and three-putt just like you and I.
After multiple layoffs and time away from the game for surgeries and recovery, this year seemed to be the year Woods would be the healthiest he’s been in a long time, and maybe — just maybe — rekindle some of the magic he created when he was winning virtually every tournament he entered.
Friday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai, Woods withdrew from second-round play because of back spasms he began suffering Thursday night.
In his third start in the past 18 months, Woods couldn’t finish. It was the seventh time he’s withdrawn from a tournament since 2010.
The hope, according to reports, is that this latest flare-up was just spasms and not anything associated with nerve pain, or more severe issues that might keep Woods out for an extended period.
But who knows. He’s already had three back surgeries.
Woods isn’t the same golfer he used to be. He’s struggling.
But the 14-time major winner doesn’t seem to be contemplating hanging up his soft spikes.
Nor should he.
There’s no reason Woods should retire from golf.
If he’s able to swing a club with no pain, or pain that’s manageable, he should play as long as he wants to.
It’s not like he has to qualify for events. Sponsors will contort themselves into pretzels to get him on the first tee. Woods was being paid seven figures to appear in the Dubai event.
And that kind of appearance fee will meet Woods virtually everywhere he wants to play. And because he’s won all four majors, he’s in those as well.
Tournament organizers, TV execs and fans all want him to play. He’s the biggest follow in golf. And everyone knows it.
Even his fellow competitors.
They want Woods to play — and they want to be paired with him.
“I don’t think disappointed is the right word,” said Matt Fitzpatrick, Woods’ playing partner in the first round in Dubai. “Obviously, I was upset by it. I would have liked to play another round with him and talked a little bit more — watch him play golf. Same for everyone, I’m sure.”
Even the most casual golf fan will tune in to see how Woods is doing. And if he’s in contention … It’s must-see TV.
The question is, will he be in contention again?
But the answer isn’t retirement.