Will We See Tiger in 2010?

Jonathan CooperContributor IDecember 8, 2009

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15:  Tiger Woods of the USA poses with the trophy after the final round of the 2009 Australian Masters at Kingston Heath Golf Club on November 15, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

This opinion will not contain any new mistresses coming forward or any allegations against Tiger Woods so I apologize if that's what you're looking for.

Instead, I want to look ahead to Tiger Woods the golfer, you know, what he was known for a couple of short weeks ago. First, will or should Tiger play any golf in 2010? A week ago, this was a no-brainer. Once golf season resumed, Tiger would be out there winning tournament and this story would become a footnote to his record-setting career. Now, I'm not so sure we'll see Tiger at Augusta in the first week of April.

I am not comparing crimes but let's look at some other athletes who have or who have almost been derailed by off the field incidents. Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez and even Michael Vick have returned to the field and had success following difficult situations. Here's the main difference. None of those athletes play an individual sport where walking with the audience is part of the rituals. Vick can hide under a helmet, Rodriguez finds a camera less than 10 percent of a baseball game and Bryant plays a fast-moving sport where the attention never truly focuses solely on him. Tiger would be subject to four hours of the camera right in his face as he walks past the galleries.

When he's talking to his caddie or a fellow player, we will wonder if he's asking about the next shot or if the arrangements for the evening are set . "Get in the hole" or "You da man" will take on entire new meaning. It's not a vision I see happening anytime soon.  

If we do see Tiger in 2010, he will either be so distracted in a sports that requires 100 percent focus that he can't succeed, or he will be so focused on winning (like we used to think he was) that no other golfer will have a chance. 

Of course, with less sponsorship money coming and possibly an expensive divorce, can Tiger afford to not play golf?  It will be interesting to follow, but I fear we will see very few Sunday red shirts or late fist pumps over the next 12 months.