For one of the most disliked sports stars to suddenly become the focus of sympathy the world over, something extremely bad must've gone down. That's precisely the case with the formerly disgraced and now supremely out-of-form Tiger Woods.
It wasn't long ago that Woods was rated among the most hated athletes – if you can call golfers that – in the U.S., thanks to his much-publicized extramarital affairs. But as of today, the hottest topic in sports is what has happened to the man who was once on his way to become the most successful golfer of all time. Such is his fall from grace that instead of ridiculing him for his misplays, people are pouring in with tips and tricks to get his game back.
Woods' fall from glory is actually beyond the point when one could poke fun at his plight in good conscience. The Tiger who once ferociously roared to stunning wins on the golf course is not even a shadow of his former self – a wounded, humiliated house cat is more like it. How did it come to this?
Late last month, the 39-year-old missed the cut by 12 shots at the Phoenix Open after shooting an 8-over 44 in the tournament's second round – one of the worst nine-hole scores of his long, storied career. And now, at the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday, his plight became even more pathetic when he quit after just 12 holes in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open. His final play was hitting the 12th hole tee shot on the green, but instead of following it up with a putt, he decided to pack his bags. By doing so, Woods – who was two over par through 11 holes at that point – put himself and his slumping game out of its misery.
He cited back stiffness for his third withdraw in last eight tourneys, but considering that he just last week assured people he was at his healthiest in years, Woods' explanation fell on suspicious ears. His former coach Hank Haney came up with an interesting theory that does make sense. He believes that Woods has the dreaded "yips" – a form of anxiety and nervousness that makes golfers miss easy putts.
"When you have the yips, you have issues," Haney said. "This isn't going away. This isn't just a turn of the switch. It starts with technique and morphs into something else. It just doesn't go away."
Haney is obviously not on great terms with his former pupil, so there is a reason for him to suggest the worst, but many others, like well-known gofl coach Bill Harmon, also point to the yips.
Those who disagree point out that Woods has always struggled for form after injuries or tweaking his game or changing coaches – all three situations which do apply here. Hence, some like Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman, are backing him to recover in a while.
Most people on social networks, meanwhile, aren't as patient. Whether it's the yips or a bad back, Woods is never going to be the same again, according to some couch commentators:
I hate to say it because I love what he has done for the sport, but I think #TigerWoods is officially done. Bad backs & golf never mix.— Donny Moore (@Donny_Moore) February 6, 2015
. #TigerWoods has the yips, shanks, and bad glutes. Forecast: career over.— Sean R. (@spartangrass) February 6, 2015
He has to drop out of tournament as he races to his ball with no confidence and just swings with no meaning. Very sad to see. #TigerWoods— JT The Brick (@JTTheBrick) February 5, 2015