By David Jordan, The Sports Network
As Tiger Woods suffers yet another significant injury, is it time to believe we have seen the end of the dominant player we once knew?
Woods underwent microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve on Monday, which will cause him to miss the Masters for the first time in his career.
“After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done,” Woods said in a statement released on his website.
“I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters. It’s a week that’s very special to me. It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.”
Prior to the surgery, Woods was forced to withdraw during the final round of the Honda Classic due to back spasms and was unable to defend his title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational because of the injury.
Woods is expected to begin rehab and soft-tissue treatment within a week and hopes to return to competitive action this summer.
But the back was just another in a laundry list of ailments over the years for the world No. 1. Woods also has had injuries to his neck, left leg, left knee, both Achilles and left elbow over the years.
Tiger somewhat silenced the not-so-quiet rumblings that he was not the player he once was last season with five victories, earning him PGA Tour Player of the Year honors.
The one thing he did not do and has not done since the 2008 U.S. Open, however, is win a major, and that is how he has come to be measured.
With 14 career major victories, Woods is four shy of tying Jack Nicklaus’ record. He is also three victories behind Sam Snead’s all-time mark of 82 on the PGA Tour.
Both are marks Woods has made clear he wants to surpass.
“There are a couple (of) records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break,” Woods added in his statement. “As I’ve said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine.”
The question now is whether Woods’ 38-year-old body can fully recover from its latest setback to reach his goals.
Say he can not return this season and has to return in 2015. That would make him 39 during the 2014-15 season, and only Ben Hogan (five) and Nicklaus (four) have won at least four majors after the age of 38.
Even if Woods can return at 75 percent of his former self, it’s pretty safe to say he will at least be able to reach Snead’s record for PGA Tour victories.
Winning four more majors, however, is going to be markedly harder and if he can’t do it, you can point to all of the injuries he has compiled over the years as the reason.
There is only so much punishment a body can take, and Woods’ may just be at the breaking point.
For the sake of the PGA Tour, you hope Woods will be able to recover from his latest injury and get back to competing at a high level. Whether you like him or not, golf is just better when Woods is near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.
Now we just have to wait and see if that will again be a foregone conclusion, or if it will become an anomaly.