Mass Hysteria and Rage Ensue Over Twitter-Fueled Tiger Woods Achilles Injury Rumor
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

Oh noes! What did Tiger do to his leg now?!

After braving the holiday travel mayhem and flying cross-country to Seattle, I was looking forward to a home-cooked meal and some R&R. You know, it was a slow news day — the perfect kind to spend seven hours on a plane. But upon landing, I turned on my phone only to discover I’d missed watching one of those Twitter melodramas that call for microwave popcorn. I mean, it sure would have beat suffering through Zac Efron’s hack acting in Charlie St. Cloud!

The commotion began when SI’s Alan Shipnuck tweeted, “Rumor alert: I’m hearing some buzz that Tiger Woods may have injured an Achilles tendon. IMG is not confirming or denying. Stay tuned.”

Within minutes, Camp Tiger’s cell phones started blowing up with calls from the golfing media, inquiring about the rumor. Thankfully, the panic was short-lived.

“There’s a rumor that Tiger tore his tendon while skiing,” agent Mark Steinberg told USA Today. “Tiger hasn’t been skiing for three years.”

And the relieved suits in Ponte Vedra backed away from the bridge they were about to jump off.

Ten days ago, Tiger received a cortisone shot in his right ankle to alleviate nagging pain. At The Masters in April, he divulged he ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg in December 2008 when he was rehabbing from surgery.

According to Steiney, Tiger was filming an EA commercial in Florida on Tuesday. “He’ll be hitting golf balls this afternoon,” added Steinberg. “He’s fine.”

For further proof, Tiger tweeted from the shoot, “Tough day at the office, testing out 12 game,” accompanied with this picture.

You see, he’s on his feet! Which only proves that he showed up to the set. In case we needed more evidence, Tiger wrote a second tweet, “Cool shot one of the EA sports guys sent me.”

There you have it! Pictures of Tiger prove he can smile and pose for the camera.

How did this rumor originate, anyway? Because it’s been circulating for at least a week now. I first got wind of it last Thursday via an Orlando-based player (who actually was distraught because he wants Tiger playing and winning). A source sent me a flurry of texts, encouraging me to do some “serious digging about Tiger” because “he might not be practicing for a while.”

I also got the skiing accident bit of the rumor. Which, honestly, was the part that made me skeptical — only because I can’t picture Tiger in skis. Plus, I was informed by skiing gurus that it’s virtually impossible to injure your Achilles in ski boots. But I still did some cautious digging and asked around to see if anyone could corroborate the alleged injury.

Obviously, the rumor, which had originated from the Orlando area, was running rampant in golfing circles. I’m kinda disappointed that Alan beat me to the so-called rumor-mongering tweet. Why didn’t I think of that? After all, I’m the blogger. Which means I recklessly publish unsubstantiated gossip! You know, because as an unrecognized media outlet, I don’t have to answer to anyone. Or follow the same protocol.

Regardless, the backlash to Alan’s Twitter blast is pretty amusing. I didn’t interpret the tweet like he was reporting that Tiger was, in fact, injured. Take a look at the wording — he wrote, “Rumor alert,” not “BREAKING NEWS” or “REPORT.” And actually, he triggered a powerful buzz that debunked the speculation. By Wednesday, a torn Achilles tendon would have turned into a torn ACL. So you see, the power and efficiency of Twitter combined with the authority Alan lends resulted in a speedy resolution — rather, an immediate denial from Team Tiger. Problem solved.

Players, sponsors, Tim Finchem, the media, and well, everyone in the industry can rest easy now — as far as we know, Tiger’s healthy and ready to save golf.

(Top: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)