In this age of advanced medical technology, it's almost unthinkable that Tiger Woods could become the Bobby Orr of golf: the game's best, sidelined by bad knees.
That comparison may be a bit of a stretch, but not as bad as one fan's on Tiger's own website, who compared Woods to Elvis, saying "Don't worry about records, all we need is you being fit and come back to (sic) intertain us. "
OK, so he's not retiring, and he's certainly not ready to be entombed in front of his gaudy Jupiter Island, Fla., mansion, but another injury is reason for concern.
Woods announced this week he will not be competing at the Wells Fargo Championship next week because of what his camp is calling a "minor" knee injury.
Woods, according to tiger-woods.com,suffered a Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon while attempting a shot from the pine straw beneath the Eisenhower tree on Augusta's No. 17 on Saturday at the Masters.
He reportedly has been advised to rest and undergo cold-water therapy and soft-tissue treatment.
Woods addressed the situation on Twitter, telling his followers that a "minor injury keeps me from playing Wells Fargo next week. Apologies to tourney and fans, but working hard to get healthy."
And his manager, Mark Steinberg of IMG, addressed the issue, saying "this is precautionary. We're not at all concerned."
But while the words "mild" and "precautionary" are being used, can it really be that minor for a guy who has undergone four knee surgeries during his career? Tiger and Canadian swing coach Sean Foley have been well documented in their quest to find a motion that gets results on the course but also is easier on his body than the fierce stabs he used to take at the ball when he was in his prime.
This latest development, no matter how minor or insignificant it's being portrayed as, can only be considered a setback in a process that seemed to be working, given Tiger's solid final round at Augusta.
While it may not slow Tiger down too much physically, another knee issue may give him some degree of mental pause when he returns, possibly at The Players Championship in two weeks.
SMOLTZ, GUILIANI TEE IT UP
The celebrity grouping of the week goes to the Nationwide Tour's South Georgia Classic.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, 43, will make his first start in a PGA-Tour sanctioned event Thursday in Valdosta, Ga.
Smoltz will be playing alongside Andrew Guiliani, son of former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani. The former Big Break contestant played his way into his first Nationwide event, finishing second in a Monday qualifier.
Smoltz, an eight-time Major League Baseball all-star who would play 18 holes on game days, tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the U.S. Open last year. He will play on a sponsor's exemption this week.
"Bobby Cox won't be there to take me out of the game," he told pgatour.com."In golf, it's all on you so if I have a bad hole, I'm going to have to keep playing and fix things myself."
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Interesting read this week from Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson, who made the case that appearance money to lure players is not limited to overseas events.
North American tournaments, the RBC Canadian Open included, don't offer appearance money, but instead employ permissible methods, such as sponsor "ambassadors," to get players to commit.
RBC ambassadors include Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Anthony Kim, Fred Couples, Luke Donald, Stephen Ames and Mike Weir.
How else are smaller events supposed to compete?
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Dec. 1994: In collegiate days at Stanford has surgery to remove tumours and scar tissue from left knee.
Dec. 2002: Has surgery on left knee and misses first five events of 2003 season.
July 2007: Anterior cruciate ligament in left knee ruptured while jogging.
Apr. 2008: Has surgery on left knee to repair cartilage.
June 2008: Wins the U.S. Open on a broken leg (stress fractures on of the left tibia) and has surgery a week later and is out for the rest of the season.
Dec. 2008: Achilles tendon in right leg ruptured.
May 2010: Inflammation of a joint in neck forces withdrawal from The Players Championship in the final round.
Apr. 26, 2011: Sprain of medial collateral ligaments in left knee and minor strain of his left Achilles, a result of hitting a shot from pine needles at No. 17 at Augusta in the third round.