Destruction of Woods myth overshadows Watson agony
Oh for 2009 to be remembered for that 59-year-old who came within one normal bounce of winning the Open; for that Korean who became the first Asian male to win a major; for that Scottish Supermum who won the Women's Open just 10 weeks after giving birth. But no, Tiger Woods drove into a fire hydrant and the sordid revelations began to pour forth. And so the Year of the Heroes became the Year of the Rat.
In truth, Woods' decision – in the midst of his extra-marital strife – to take an "indefinite break" from competitive golf would have monopolised the headlines whatever the sporting narrative. The world No 1 voluntarily walking away from the pursuit which had previously defined him was as unprecedented as it was unexpected. Granted, golf had to cope without him in 2008 for eight months as he recovered from knee reconstruction. But one has to be thicker than a whale's lip not to recognise the difference this time.
Woods' profession will nervously await his third coming and will do so in some uncertainty. Tiger the spotless human will never be the same again, but will Tiger the impervious competitor? Together with the inevitable financial implications, of course, these are the questions obsessing the fairways.
Yet wind the clock back a few weeks – and a dozen or so mistresses – and there were already queries over the Woods aura, despite his seven tournament wins. Do not forget that he suffered what many consider to be the first missed cut in a major as a pro (the previous time came six weeks after his father died and he was in no fit shape to compete) at Turnberry in July. Indeed, the events of that week continue to flabbergast even now.
Did Tom Watson, a man just nine months short of his 60th birthday and nine months removed from a hip replacement, really come so close to becoming the oldest winner of a major by more than 10 years? With that eight-iron approach in the air, making its perfectly struck progress to the 18th green, it seemed nothing could or would stop sport's most remarkable victory from unfolding.
But then it bounced like a basketball hitting a trampoline and then it ended up over the green and then, for the first time, Watson resembled an old man.
Stewart Cink was waiting in the play-off as the archetypal party- pooper and the game proceeded to weep for what could have been. It was an anti-climax which Catriona Matthew tried to erase at Lytham and Y E Yang attempted to eradicate at the USPGA. However, only one story was capable of overshadowing Watson's agony. The destruction of the Tiger myth. A sin for the ages.
Three to watch
www.tigerwoods.com The world No 1 will announce his return/retirement on his website. The world is already waiting.
Rory McIlroy Can the boy wonder fill the void? If the putter obliges, a major is not too fanciful a notion.
Michelle Wie The last 12 months have seen the girl become a woman. The next year will see her become a major champion.
Latest in Sport
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Ghosts of past cast a massive shadow
Mayweather-Pacquiao: Ricky Hatton, Mike Tyson, Ronda Rousey and more make their predictions
Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
Kyle Walker video: Tottenham defender categorically denies 'disgusting' rumours on Facebook
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Yazidi sex slaves undergoing surgery to 'restore virginity' after being raped by Isis militants
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds