Is It Time for Tiger Woods To Step Away From the PGA Tour?

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IMay 12, 2010

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09:  Tiger Woods looks on from the second green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

He's been through every emotion you could possibly imagine. He's been from the very tip of the mountain top after winning the Masters a few years ago to being in the very bottom of what must feel like a bottomless pit over the last six months.

He's disgraced himself, hurt his family, and embarrassed his sponsors, friends, and fellow players.

He made his return, albeit it too soon I thought, at the Masters in Augusta this past April and played better than a lot of people expected.

Since the Masters, Tiger has been everything but himself. He missed the cut at Quail Hollow a few weeks ago and then, during the final round of the The Players Championship at Sawgrass, withdrew on the seventh hole because of an apparent neck injury.

Not to add insult to injury, but the latest piece of negative news couldn't have helped Tiger's situation, as his swing coach, Hank Haney, resigned earlier this week . The hits just keep coming.

For Tiger, he has to be wondering how much worse things can get. But, he also needs to realize that this is of his own making. He made the choices he made, and now he has to deal with the consequences; he has no one to blame but himself.

Where he goes now and what happens in the next few months is unknown. What I would suggest, if I could, to Tiger is to step away from the game for awhile and realize that he's tried to do too much too soon.

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I know the competitiveness inside him must be brewing, for he's just like anyone who has ever played any kind of sport, been injured, been forced to watch from the sidelines, and ached to return to their team or their sport before they're physically able.

While at dinner last night with a family friend, we got onto the conversation of Tiger Woods and what has happened to him since the Masters. He made a good point to me while in the car. He said, "golf is 85 percent mental and 15 percent physical." He was exactly right.

There's no question that Tiger has the best concentration and mental preparedness of any golfer on tour. There's no question that Tiger can tune any fan or any fellow player out when he's on his game. It's what he does best.

But when he's dealing with so much and must have a million thoughts running through his mind, he's not going to be the same Tiger Woods we all know he can be. He's not going to be the kind of dominant golfer we've been used to seeing in the past.

Sure, he showed signs of it on the first day of the Masters with his incredible bending shot around the trees to within six feet of the cup. A miraculous shot we've seen before and a shot that should have been the precursor for things to come.

But Tiger never got in the kind of rhythm he's used to getting. He couldn't land a putt, his shots off the tee weren't crisp, and he didn't have the same tenacity he usually has on the golf course. It wasn't Tiger. Mentally, he was far from the golf course.

He's a great player, there's no question about that. He's one of the most talented athletes I've ever seen. He's not the most talented, but he does things on a golf course that we've seen Michael Jordan do on a basketball court or Barry Sanders on a football field. He's that good.

What he lacks right now is the ability to keep his mind focused on the task at hand. He lacks the ability to do the things he's used to doing, to make the shots that put him on the top of the leaderboard, and make other players fear him.

Superman put his cape down just for a second and has forgotten where he left it.

Tiger, it's time for you to step away from the game and step away from the PGA Tour. It, and its fans, will be here when you're ready to return. Right now, it's time for you to focus on your family and getting things squared away with your life.

Golf courses aren't going away, and neither is the tour. It's okay to admit that it was too soon for you to come back, it's okay to admit that you weren't ready, because believe me, it's showing. It's not embarrassing to admit that your mind isn't completely in the game.

The fans who have watched you over the years enjoy the Tiger who is feared by fellow players every time they see your name in the field. They enjoy the Tiger who throws that famous fist pump on every big putt or the flip of the club and stare on every perfect shot.

That's the Tiger that every golf fan, or fan of yours, comes out to watch. They want to see that player make his return because it's not the guy we've seen over the last month.

Go away for a while, take care of whatever personal business you need to take care of and come back when you're good and ready.

The game will be here and will welcome you back just as it did at Augusta.

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