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Is Tiger’s quest over?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We could talk about the Mariners lack of offense. Or the Hawks' training camp. Or, if we were so inclined, any of the local college football camps that are underway. But instead we switch gears a little bit. Read on.


••••••••••

• Yesterday, Tiger Woods had to walk off the course in Akron, done in, again, by his back. Yes, the same back that was supposed to be fixed by his recent surgery. Now this could be something minor, a strained muscle or the like brought on by overexertion. Or maybe it was just a spasm due to an odd swing he had to make to get out of a sand trap or rough or something. Such things would be bad but not the type of thing to make us begin thinking of Tiger's end-game. Yet that's where we are going here. It hit me last night. The back injury, and the resultant surgery earlier this year, might not have singled the end of Woods as a force in majors – that seems to have happened on that fateful Thanksgiving five years ago when he ran his car into a tree and his marriage into the dumpster – but may have sealed his fate. Backs are tricky things, especially for athletes. And especially for an athlete like Woods, whose competitive fire probably won't allow him to throttle back, to make a decision that might cost him a stroke today but save him pain tomorrow. When he walked off the Firestone Country Club course yesterday – a track he's dominated throughout his career – he looked older than his 38 years. He is. He's demanded so much of his body since he was, what, 3 and appeared on the Johnny Carson show. He wanted to be the best. He pushed himself and his body to be the best. Yet, as the golfing calendar for this year draws to a close – the final major, the PGA, starts Thursday in Louisville – he's no better than the second-best golfer of all time – I would rank him third behind Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, though I might have tied with Jones right now – with little chance of ascending to the top spot. That's a bit sad. Oh, sure, Woods has only himself to blame for his personal problems. They cost him some. But injuries, those are not his fault. There were a few savvy old-time golfers back in the day that predicted this, Nicklaus among them, citing the violence and force Woods unleashed on every swing, but still, no one wishes pain on anyone. There is little doubt if Tiger had stayed healthy, he would have reached his goals. But there is also little doubt the way he was attempting to reach those goals sowed the seeds for his ultimate failure. Oh, sure, there is still time. He could heal up, bounce back and still win four or five more majors. The odds are against it however. As is his back.

•••

• WSU: Is it time for the games yet? Two days into training camp and the Cougars are talking trash. At least that's the subject of Jacob Thorpe's story today. He also had a blog post last night after practice ended along with another blog post today with links from around the Pac-12. … We can add a couple more links, including five key questions for Stanford and California as they kick off preseason practice.

• Idaho: The Vandals begin their preseason practice tonight and Josh Wright has them covered. At least for a while longer. Josh has a story on the beginning of camp and a blog post covering more ground.

• Indians: OK, the poor play is no longer an aberration. It is the norm. Chris Derrick lays out the Indians' struggles succinctly in this game story and blog post following last night's 12-6 home loss to Hillsboro.

• Seahawks: The Hawks had Sunday off but there are still a few things to cover. Included in that number is the loss of Michael Bowie (pictured) to the waiver wire after he was injured. That doesn't help. … It is start of game week – the first preseason game is this Thursday in Denver – and the Hawks are still looking for a punt returner. … The two guys in the middle of the offensive and defensive lines help each other improve every day.

• Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma made one bad pitch in the first inning and it cost him – and the M's – a game. The Orioles' Nick Markakis hit a solo home run to lead off Baltimore's first and the O's won, 1-0 yesterday. … The newest M's have yet to really get their bats going – or to jumpstart the offense. … Brad Miller and Chris Taylor aren't platooning at shortstop. They are splitting time.

• Sounders: A year ago yesterday Clint Dempsey joined the Sounders. The team has played pretty well since. … Dempsey and a handful of his teammates are in Portland for the all-star festivities. … One last look at the 1-0 loss to San Jose.

•••

• I like warm weather, I cannot lie. But all these back-to-back 90-degree days wear on me. And my lawn. I wouldn't be upset if there was a 75-degree day thrown in sometime this week, but I don't see it happening. Until later … 


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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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