Remember when Tiger Woods finished off Rocco Mediate in a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open? He hobbled around the course wincing in pain from a torn ACL in his right leg. Prior to that, Woods won two additional U.S. Open tournaments, in 2000 and 2002, in both cases being the only golfer to score under par!
Ahh, the good old days of the Tiger Woods mystique, when fans thought him to be an alien, a great guy and basically the most winningest golfer who one day would take more events than, and could be in line for, Jack Nicklaus' vacated throne.
Then came the downfall and both Tiger Woods and the game of golf suffered immeasurably. Woods' comeback and attempt to win the 2010 US Open failed as he remained within reach but struggled for fourth place, a 4-over par score of 75, to tie with Phil Mickelson who grapples year-after-year with his own demons to conquer the US Open.
Fast forward to May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and Tiger Woods' Terminator-esque video statement, "I'll be ready!"
A precautionary walking boot on a "minor injury", a "grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and sprain to his tendon has sidelined the former number-one golfer in the world to opt-out of this week's Wells Fargo Tournament,
"I personally contacted tournament officials and expressed my regret in not being able to play," Woods said. "This is an outstanding event, but I must follow doctors' orders to get better."
A consideration as to whether or not Woods will enter the Players Championship or sit on the sidelines until the next major currently depends on his physical recovery but, with gossip mills churning out stories of Elin Nordegren "scoping for a new honey" and reports of how Tiger has been interfering in her private life, fans can see that the road to recovery is a long one.
It was Tiger Woods' mental lapse, not necessarily his physical condition, that interfered with his game.
It is interesting to note, however, that in spite of Tiger Woods' sprains and despite the fact that he has not won an event and has only placed in the top-ten two times this year, that Woods is still the number one, odds-on favorite (currently at 6.50 to 1) to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.
So, ready-or-not, Tiger Woods has decided to play the 2011 U.S. Open. Having a win under his belt at Congressional in the 2009 AT&T National hosted by the Tiger Woods Foundation should conjure up some positive memories and, if he can leave his emotional battle on the sidelines, Tiger Woods could make the U.S. Open his first win since the 2009 Australian Masters (unless of course, he enters, and wins the Players....)