The first 13 years of Tiger Woods' career ran like clockwork.
Woods would show up for practice rounds at the crack of down.
He employed the same caddie for 12 years and switched swing coaches just once between his junior golf days and his six-win 2009 season.
Woods was not victorious every time he teed it up. In fact, even at his best he was winning only one out of every three events he attended. But more often than not he was going to be in contention on Sunday afternoon, which was, of course, a dream scenario for the fans, media and television network executives.
Woods sunk virtually every big putt he saw between 1997 and 2008, to the point where NBC’s Dan Hicks had nothing to say other than “expect anything different” when Woods sunk a 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the 2008 U.S. Open to force an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate.
He was voted by his peers as the PGA Tour Player of the Year nine times in a 12-year span between 1997 and 2008.
Whatever might have been happening elsewhere in the world of golf, there was one constant on the course—Woods was the dominant alpha dog in the game.
Woods would swoop in to an event, dominate the field and fly off in his private jet not to be heard from again until he decided to return to the course and once again thrash his competition.
For 13 years the only drama produced by Woods occurred on the golf course.
Fast forward five years and throw in a fire hydrant, sex scandal and the very public dissolution of his marriage, and the only drama produced by Woods these days comes in the form of injury reports, tournament withdrawals, late night television appearances, ice bucket challenges and swing coach changes.
Instead of creating roars at Augusta National with incredible power and miraculous displays of short game precision, the only roars Woods created at Augusta this year came as a result of his announcement just days prior to the start of the Masters that he had undergone microdiscectomy surgery to fix a pinched nerve in his back.
Woods was once again able to stir up the drama pot at the same course where one of the most dramatic duels of his career had unfolded back in 1999. Only this year the drama Woods created at Valhalla Golf Club was through shocking the golf world by simply showing up to the event just days after withdrawing from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational due to pain in his lower back. Woods would continue to shock fans as the opening two rounds of the event progressed by deciding to remain in the competition, despite clearly being in a great deal of pain while trending well outside of the cut line.
Over the past two weeks Woods once again made his way into the headlines through a joint appearance with Rory McIlroy on “The Tonight Show”, accepting the ice bucket challenge and pulling himself out of the running for one of Tom Watson’s potential captain’s picks for the 2014 Ryder Cup.
But Woods was not yet finished creating waves off of the golf course.
Last Monday Woods announced that he and swing coach Sean Foley would be parting ways after just four years, making Foley’s reign the shortest among the three coaches Woods has employed since 1993.
The following statement appeared on tigerwoods.com last Monday morning:
I'd like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship. Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today, and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him. With my next tournament not until my World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando, this is the right time to end our professional relationship.
Presently, I do not have a coach, and there is no timetable for hiring one.
Yet more drama as the enigma that is Tiger Woods continues to twist and turn into a completely undecipherable puzzle.
Rumors and speculation will undoubtedly build in the coming weeks and months about whether Woods will decide to take on another swing coach and if he will be healthy enough to compete in the World Challenge at Isleworth in December.
There will be twists, there will be turns and, as always, there will be an abundance of drama surrounding Woods.
But the main difference today is that all of this drama being produced by Woods is occurring off of the golf course.
The master of the dramatic moment remains, only the venue has changed.
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