Will Tiger Woods' Aging Body Allow Him to Surpass Jack Nicklaus?

Fred AltvaterContributor IIJune 20, 2013

Tiger Woods strained his left elbow at the U.S. Open
Tiger Woods strained his left elbow at the U.S. OpenJD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone saw Tiger Woods struggle with pain in his left elbow at the U.S. Open. It is the latest setback in a long series of injuries that have plagued Woods throughout his career.

Woods announced via TigerWoods.com, “I was examined after I returned home from the U.S. Open, and the doctors determined I have a left elbow strain.”

He also announced his plans to rest the elbow and take some time off: “I have been advised to take a few weeks off, rest and undergo treatment. I’ll be ready to go for the British Open and I am looking forward to playing Muirfield.”

Woods will miss the AT&T National, and he expressed his regrets to the fans and sponsors of that event.

Injuries and personal problems have kept Woods from reaching his goal of beating the record of 18 major victories held by Jack Nicklaus.

Beginning in 1994, as a member of the Stanford Golf Team, he had surgery on his left knee to remove two benign tumors and scar tissue. In December of 2002, he had to have fluid drained on the same left knee and missed the first five tournaments in the 2003 PGA Tour season.

In July of 2007, Woods ruptured his ACL while running, played the rest of the year and finally had to have surgery after winning the 2008 U.S. Open. He missed eight months of tournament play after this medical procedure.

His personal problems came to light in 2009 during Thanksgiving, and he was again forced to take time away from the tour.

In early 2010, he withdrew from the Players Championship with a sore neck. He also withdrew from the 2011 Players with a sore right knee.

His practice regimen leading up to the U.S. Open and the severe rough course at Merion Golf Club led to the latest physical breakdown in his left elbow.

Woods is obviously not getting any younger, and his body has been forced to absorb years of stressful physical workouts and thousands of hard golf swings.

Woods’ golf swing earlier in his career featured a left knee snap through his release that forced the knee backwards and placed a tremendous amount of stress on the ligaments around that knee.

The development of his sculptured body is a testament to his fanatical exercise routines, but it has also added fatigue to his body.

Woods is one of the most conditioned professional golfers on the PGA Tour and has set the standard for pro golfers to improve their games by being physically fit.

If Woods’ body will allow him to compete until he is 45 years old, he will have another 30 attempts to win five major championships. He has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. He will need to win nearly one major per year over the next few years.  

With seven wins and 14 top-10 finishes in his last 28 tournaments, he has proven that he can still dominate the PGA Tour.

His performance in majors in 2013 has not been promising for future success, but he has won 14 majors in the past and knows what it takes to win again.

Age affects every athlete. Nagging injuries become more of an issue, and, more importantly, the body needs a longer period of time to recuperate from an injury.

The big question going forward is whether Woods' aging knees, back, shoulders and elbows will allow him to surpass Nicklaus.