Tiger Woods withdrew from the Honda Classic during Sunday’s final round due to lower back spasms. It was the sixth time he has withdrawn from a tournament in his career, usually due to injury. The bulk of Tiger's WDs have happened since Thanksgiving 2009, when his personal life began unraveling in public view and injuries in his neck and back hampered his health.
This brings up an interesting question: What if Tiger Woods only played the majors for the rest of his career? Let’s take a look at some of the threats and opportunities surrounding that hypothetical situation.
If Tiger decided to only play four times a year, the immediate short-term threats are pretty substantial. First and foremost, Tiger will lose out on any appearance fees he reportedly gets from any overseas tournaments during the year. He’ll also have to skip out on any tournament hosted by his sponsors, including his own World Challenge. He’d probably feel that a bit in his pocketbook.
From a golf fan’s perspective, we’d simply be missing out on seeing Tiger Woods multiple times throughout the year. Love him or hate him, he’s still the reason why many casual fans turn on a golf tournament.
Thinking long-term (i.e., more than five years from now), Tiger would be threatening his own record-chasing if he severely limited his playing schedule. Tiger is 38 right now. If he plays until he’s 50, that means he’s got 48 more chances to not only break Jack Nicklaus’ major record, but Sam Snead’s overall wins record (Woods has 79 wins; Snead has 82). Forty-eight tournaments is not a lot, all things considered.
Have we even stopped to think what failing to break either of those records would mean to Tiger’s legacy?
On the flip side, there are many potential immediate positives that Tiger would see from cutting down his playing schedule. For one, he could potentially be in tip-top shape every time he steps onto a golf course. He would have no excuse not to be. He would immediately be a heavy favorite to win every major (much like he is now) and could spend his off weeks playing each course multiple times a year.
Plus, could you imagine the build up for each major? It would be absolutely insane. The PGA Tour, R&A, PGA of America and Augusta would have to call in the military to handle crowd control.
Let’s be honest, we’re talking about Tiger Woods here. While 48 tournaments isn’t a ton, he still has 48 chances to break both career records. Would that really surprise anyone?
Furthermore, playing fewer events could potentially prolong his playing career, giving him even more chances in the long run.