Though it amounted to little more than a plodding injury debrief, Tiger Woods’s pre-tournament interrogation at Bay Hill this morning still managed to yield a headline-grabbing flash of insight.
Indeed, lost amid countless Achilles-related queries was the suggestion that the former world No1’s anxieties had already shifted to another, less metaphorically significant part of the body.
This week, Tiger’s Achilles heel could be his back.
While teeing off on the par-5 sixth hole this morning, Woods was disturbed by the activity of a nearby photographer. He abandoned his downswing, bailing out with an inimitable piece-by-piece deconstruction of his shoulder turn, but paid an immediate physical cost:
“Yeah, I guess one of the so called professional photographers [meow!] took a picture right in the middle of my downswing. I stopped it, and then felt a pretty good twinge in my back. Walked it off and then tried to hit one down there, hit it in the fairway, but didn’t feel very good. But after a couple of holes it loosened up and I’m good to go now.”
The slo-mo uncoiling of a swing apparently beyond the point of interruption has become something of a Tiger Woods trademark in recent years, evidence of both his focus and unparalleled athleticism, but while one of those attributes remains arguably locked in place, the other is falling foul of a slow, often imperceptible erosion.
Ageing is a bitch, a fact to which the 36-year-old can well attest.
“You’ve got to work [out] around [the ageing process]… You’re working different body parts and you can still get the CV up to where you want to. You don’t always have to pound the payment for that long. You can do it a different way, work on other body parts and make sure they are strong and supple and explosive.”
Either a momentary hiccup or a harbinger of headlines to come, Tiger’s impromptu stretching session may yet prove one of the week’s defining moments.