Watching Tiger this past week and having gone through some knee trouble myself, I suspected something was going wrong. Usually that long after the scope he had, he should have been better. The fact that he was still really struggling, I suspected that something was going on. Which is really too bad. Because it's been an unbelievable stretch he's been on. The fact that he could win the hardest tournament in the world on one leg is truly amazing. I mean this is stuff that will be talked about for 100 years. There will be people years from now telling their grandkids that they were there when Tiger won the Open on one leg. Which will be cool.
The procedure he's going to have has a 6-8 month time frame before you can do anything. Anytime you start talking about ACLs, those are big deals.
For the next three or four months, he'll be concentrating on rehab, and once the doctor lets you go, you can start putting. Then you can start chipping. Then you can start hitting some 50-yard shots, and eventually they'll work you into hitting full shots. I would suspect he will spend a ridiculous amount of hours putting once the doctor lets him go.
Now, you don't know how you're going to come back from any knee injury. You don't know how your body is going to respond. The more times you go in there, the more difficult it is. But you've seen a lot of great athletes in other sports come back from ACL injuries and play their game beautifully. I would think Tiger will come back and be as strong as ever. When this is what you've done for so long, then all of a sudden for three or four months, you can't do it, he will be so supermotivated, it will be unbelievable. If he can come back 100 percent healthy next year, I think guys [on the Tour] better beware.
Knowing how hard he works, the next place he might play any golf could be in December back at Torrey Pines. How ironic will that be? I'm guessing that's probably the next place he'll play. His tournament in December in Southern California could be a goal for his return and a [tune-up] round at Torrey Pines would make sense. Now, that may be a little early. If he doesn't play in December, the Buick would probably be his next one, which is at Torrey Pines as well.
In the meantime, I would think Tiger being out of the picture is going to give a lot of guys a really great opportunity. We can find out who wants it the rest of the year. There's not that Tiger factor to worry about. They're not going to be looking over their shoulder to see what he's doing. It's time for the top players to step it up and get it done. It's going to be an interesting second half of the season to see what happens. It will be real interesting to see if the public cares about the FedEx Cup at the end of the year. Last year the reason people tuned it was because you had Phil and Tiger or Tiger and someone and that's going to be gone. It'll be real interesting if anybody cares.
Now, could this actually be good for golf? Well, if someone does step up and gets after it and does something that would be good for our game. But if it stays as it's been, I can't see how it could be good. If one of our younger players wins the British Open and wins the PGA then all of a sudden, wow, maybe we've got somebody there. But we'll have to see if that happens.
Two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North is a golf analyst for ESPN.