A Curious Thing Regarding the Comeback of Tiger Woods

The last two weeks we’ve seen Tiger Woods contend in a PGA tour event, something we haven’t seen with any regularity since 2013.  The golf world is legitimately excited to see the one man that makes golf interesting to watch a door step away from winning again.

But one thing has struck me as curious over these two weeks, and that is the extraordinary swing speed that Tiger now possesses.  His swing speed has been measured as high as 129 mph, which, last week, was the third highest swing speed in the tournament, and even greater than his swing speed in 2013, a campaign that saw Tiger win five times.

What’s curious about that is Tiger is now 42 years old and has had multiple back surgeries in the intervening five years.  How is it possible he could have such a high swing speed, especially at an age when the body’s fast-twitch muscles begin to atrophy?

The only other athlete I’m aware of who saw an increase in swing speed at a relatively advanced age was Barry Bonds, whose bat speed was higher in his late 30’s than in his early 30’s.  And we know how that turned out.

Tiger shares another commonality with Bonds.  Together with Lance Armstrong, no athlete dominated their sport more, before or since, when they were all at their peak in the early 2000s.  And, of course, we now know that two members of that triumvirate used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Would it be so far-fetched to speculate that Tiger Woods is guilty of the same sin?  Tiger has a similar personality to the other two in that they’re all highly narcissistic, with a win-at-all-costs attitude.

And consider this: As we know, Tiger cheated on his wife with a rather alarming enthusiasm.  Plus, he’s the worst tipper on tour, despite his many millions.  What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Clearly, “doing the right thing” is not at the forefront of his decision making.

The other thing to note is the constant slew of injuries that have befallen him in recent years.  Do you know of any other golfer that has had the variety of injuries as had?  That can often be a sign of steroid use.

And, finally, one more thing.  You might argue that the PGA tour has a testing policy, and, in fact, a handful of tour players have been suspended because they’ve tested positive.  But, remember, Tiger Woods is the face of that franchise.  His success has brought many additional millions of dollars to the tour, and, I’m sure, to a number of tour officials.  If Tiger were to test positive, do you honestly think any tour official would make such news public?  That would be financial suicide.

In sum, I really don’t know whether Tiger uses PEDs or not.  But, the elements are there, and the increase in swing speed should give one pause.

Thank you, Greg Frank for your inspiration in the creation of this blog.

Tiger Woods and PEDS

The question has arisen in the past as to whether Tiger Woods has ever used performance enhancing drugs (PEDS). It’s not so simple as a yes or no answer, but one can look at certain characteristics to asses probabilities.

Consider the following:

  1. In the early part of the 2000’s, three athletes dominated their sports like no other athlete before or since, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, and Tiger Woods.  The first two on this list are known PEDS users.
  2. Besides their success, they all share one other characteristic, which is a narcissism of the highest order. That is to say, they don’t see themselves as needing to follow the rules that lesser mortals are subject to.
  3. Tiger has been injured a lot more than any other golfer I can think of.  The truth is, it’s not that grueling of a sport.  His many injuries are, at minimum, curious.
  4. Tiger cheated on his wife with a rather startling enthusiasm.  In addition, he’s the worst tipper on tour.  Here’s guy worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and he can’t be bothered to give a valet five dollars?  What’s that have to do with anything, you might ask.  Well, it suggests that doing the right thing isn’t at the forefront of his decision-making.
  5. Last season, he committed a couple of known rules violations, as called out by the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, one in which the ball moved at address.  He claimed the ball only “oscillated,” but it clearly moved, which would have cost him a stroke.  So, again, rules are to be ignored if you’re the ubermensch known as Tiger Woods.
  6. His name has been connected with a doctor who was a known to prescribe HGH. The doctor claims he never provided HGH to Tiger, but silence can always be bought.
  7. The PGA tour does test for PEDS, but consider this.  Tiger Woods is the face of that organization.  His presence at any tournament increases viewership by several-fold.  If he did test positive, would it be in the tour’s interest to announce such a thing.  It would not.  In fact, it would be financial suicide.  Sponsorships would fall by the wayside.

What does this all add up to?  Certainly, there’s no hard evidence that Tiger has ever used PEDS.  But, given what we know, the probability is certainly well above zero.

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