It was only a 13-second video. It was only one swing. It was only a 9-iron that found the middle of a simulated green.
In the grand scheme of things, Tiger Woods‘ first publicly viewed golf swing in six months and one day doesn’t mean very much. It doesn’t mean that he will soon return to competition or that he can swing pain-free or that any of the other theories about the future of the 14-time major champion will become any more true or false.
But it does mean something.
Golf’s latest Shot Heard ‘Round the World wasn’t just a shot in the literal sense. It was also a shot at those who in recent days were reporting and rumor-mongering about Woods’ supposed failing health.
In the 48 hours prior to posting his video, Woods undoubtedly noticed the social media maelstrom contending he could barely walk, let alone swing a golf club. Never one to back down from a good challenge, he fought Twitter fire with Twitter fire, getting in the last word on this one-sided debate.
Sorry, make that two words, posted along with his video: “Progressing nicely.”
In the past, Woods has recovered and rehabilitated and returned from injuries with extreme optimism — at least in public. The by-product has been that he’s always raised expectations for his comeback, often to the point where those expectations are outsized.
This time, during the few occasions when he’s spoken publicly in the past six months, Woods’ optimism has been more cautious. There has been no grand declaration that he will soon be fully healthy or that he’ll return to form.
His latest video continues to toe his own company line.
In the wake of his post, there will be assumptions that he’s gearing up to play tournament golf again soon, guesses at when that might be and estimations as to when he’ll win another title.
That’s the way social media works these days. Woods knows this, too, which is one reason he didn’t raise any expectations with that simple two-word response. He also knows, though, that he had to say something.
Woods is fond of repeating the phrase, “Father Time is undefeated.” He understands that he’s on the back-nine of his career. He’s made peace with these acknowledgments.
But he isn’t ready to have his career ended — certainly not by others through social media.
That one 9-iron swing doesn’t reveal the numerous answers we collectively seek to our Tiger Woods questions. It doesn’t tell us how he feels physically or when he’ll compete again.
It means something, though.
It means that he isn’t going to let other people write the epitaph to his career while he’s still working to keep it alive.