By Benjamin Block
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Tiger Woods’ numbers continue to climb.
And this latest number of significance is four — the amount of back surgeries the 14-time major winner has undergone since 2009.
Golf fans, many of whom are WFAN.com’s passionate own, have been outspoken with their resistance to the coverage that the fading star still commands.
And who could blame you?
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson’s spill down the stairs of his rental house in Augusta the night before the Masters, which forced him to miss it, didn’t cause as much of a stir even.
When Rory McIlroy — currently listed second to Johnson on the official world golf rankings — fractured a rib in January, he didn’t get the kind of attention that Woods has garnered in the past 24 hours.
These are relevant and young stars at the top of their games.
Why do injury updates about the disillusioned former superstar consume the sports world when golf has perhaps the most balanced dose of talent, personality and interest now than it ever has?
It’s hard to believe that Woods is convincing anyone but himself at this point, too.
“The surgery went well, and I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said Thursday after successful surgery.
Heard that before.
While it’s encouraging that Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute was able to remove Woods’ damaged disc and re-elevate the collapsed space in his lower back, patients who receive this kind of surgery don’t fully recover for six months.
Despite his 2017 season likely being shelved, Woods’ unofficial hype man, Notah Begay, told Golf Channel on Thursday, “Similar to how he approaches the game, he’s just not going to roll over and disappear.”
Few would disagree, and some might hope he would, but it certainly seems like a lifetime ago when Woods answered to anybody. And frankly, when he even cared what people thought.
In his 1998 book “The First Coming Tiger Woods,” John Feinstein wrote: “He signed endorsement contracts for staggering amounts of money. He blew off the president of the United States and Rachel Robinson, the widow of the century’s most important athlete — and made no apologies for it. He didn’t have to. He was Tiger. They weren’t.”
That reality is distant now. Woods the magician, the illusionist who made birdies and eagles appear instead of rabbits out of a hat, seems like a made-up figure today.
For years we selfishly accepted his off-the-course shortcomings and unwillingness to let us get to know things about him. Because in exchange he gave us 14 stellar majors and 79 career wins.
His wave of dominance on golf courses contained the kind of beauty and strength to that of the fatally attractive Banzai Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii.
Woods, who once mastered captivating interviewers and hordes of press while virtually revealing nothing of any real substance, suddenly can’t stop divulging things about himself.
Only nobody appears to care now.
He’s revealing information that aids what many already perceive, which is that his days of winning golf tournaments are over.
The whole scenario is like finding out that your dad is not the superhuman you were once sure he was.
You don’t want to believe it. Anger and frustration manifest into nostalgia, but ultimately there’s nothing left to do but accept the new reality.
Follow Benjamin on Twitter at @benjaminblock21