At a press conference prior to the Hero World Challenge, the tournament he hosts, Tiger Woods confirmed what we've known for a long time - he's done. After two more back surgeries in the off season, the days of Tiger lurking around the top of the leaderboard are over. With no timetable to return and nothing to build towards, Tiger offered a bleak outlook of his playing future.
"That's the hardest part for me," he said (via Golf Channel). "There's really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards. It's literally just day by day and week by week and time by time. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don't know."
It wasn't just his frustration with his most recent surgery that was notable from his press conference. It was the fact that he seemed resigned to his future.
"There is nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards. I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy."
Tiger's words were met with words of sadness from members of the media and fans of the sports world. With Kobe Bryant's announcement that he will retire at the end of the NBA season, coupled with the fact that Peyton Manning appears to be riding off into the sunset in Denver, the fact that three of the greatest athletes in their respective sports may be gone in 2016 is hard to swallow for many.
This press conference, however, is not the time to mourn Tiger's career...that moment has passed long ago.
While Tiger Woods continued to hold on to hope that he may resurrect his career over the past two seasons, golf fans knew that the days of seeing Tiger awaken the echoes at places like Augusta National are over. His T10 finish at the Wyndham Championship last season was his first top 10 in two years, a far cry from the days when a top 10 was assured before the first tee shot was hit. In fact, in the past two seasons, Tiger has only played 20 events, due in large part to his continuous injury problems and many surgeries. He is approaching the wrong side of 40, and his last major championship came nearly eight years ago.
Tiger's press conference shows that he is at least somewhat resigned to the fact that he may never win another golf tournament again. The facade of Tiger Woods showing up to a golf tournament thinking that he will be the eventual champion has been washed away. He is no longer in denial, and that is a huge victory for the sport.
Golf fans need to take this as an opportunity to celebrate. Celebrate the career of Tiger Woods, the most dominant golfer in the history of the sport. We were lucky that Tiger graced the sport the way he did, and that golf fans got to witness his historic run. Golf will never see another Tiger Woods. What he accomplished was a once in a lifetime event.
Fans must also take the time to recognize that golf is being left in a great place. With star such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day, there are enough personalities to move the sport forward in Tiger's absence. The sport may never have the mainappeal that is did when Tiger was dominating, but the sport does not have to worry about establishing new superstars.