Tiger’s playing days in Hawaii could be gone with the wind
If you didn't go see Tiger Woods play here in the island chain a few years back, chances are that's an opportunity missed forever.
My grandfather told us as young children about the time Halley's Comet lit up the April skies in 1910 when he was a little boy. He related similar tales to my father and hoped he'd get the chance to see it again with his son when it came back for a tour of duty in 1986.
History tells us that while the 1910 viewing was spectacular, the fly-by 76 years later was the worst for observers in recorded history. My father and grandfather climbed a small hill in the predawn hours near Dallas' White Rock Lake in hopes of catching a glimpse of this dim impostor, but it wasn't worth the 50-year wait.
I'll be 106 the next time Halley's Comet comes around again and have a better chance of seeing it than I do Tiger at the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Kapalua. For years, speculation ran rampant as to why Woods stopped spending the New Year on Maui traversing the spacious grounds of the Plantation Course that would leave even Madonna breathless. Some said the PGA Tour schedule ran too long; not enough Tiger time from the middle of December to the first week in January to prepare for the winners-only event.
Others speculated that the wind drove his precision mind batty or the greens were so filled with grain, you imagined oats and barley growing around the holes whenever he described them. Some even joked that the good folks at Buick didn't want him driving around in a Mercedes, might get too comfy in those luxury sedans.
But now we know the real reason, don't we? And there's nothing tournament director Gary Planos, who Tiger always praises when declining an invitation, can do about it.
YOU MIGHT RECALL a story Mark Calcavecchia told in early January -- about how he was halfway up South Mountain in Arizona when he decided to text this message to Tiger:
"Hiking a mountain. May die."
Soon after, Woods replied:
"You must be on the Plantation Course."
Ha, ha, ha. But not so funny now when you realize the reason Woods likely opted out of the prestigious tournament since his last appearance in 2005 was due to his rickety knee. Most of the top golf writers who trail after these guys for a living will tell you the Plantation Course ain't no picnic. You hike up and down those hills, 18 holes at a time, wind whipping in your face like you're atop the mast of a pirate ship, and it can get to you.
Athletic trainers also claim that a five-year warranty comes with the first knee operation, but after that, it depends on the patient and the severity of the operation. The life expectancy of Woods' knee, which has already been operated on four times, is anyone's guess.
Of course, the specialists are going to come out and claim a full recovery is expected. Have you ever heard a surgeon say to the cameras, "Well, that didn't turn out so good."? Not going to happen. But one thing is certain -- unless Kauai recaptures the Grand Slam of Golf or the Mercedes chooses a new venue, Halley's Comet will hit the island chain before Woods does.
And the dark skies of Kapalua will provide the best seat in the house.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at email@example.com