SPORTSDOC- Tiger trick? Could golf's greatest also be a fraud?

Once again I am called to tell the truth about Tiger Woods. The man ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski once called the world's "greatest athlete" has now "saved the world of sports" by personifying truth and dignity.

Do I really have to do this?

To recap a former column, golf is not a sport; it is a game.

Sport is firstly defined as a competitive activity involving physical exertion and skill, secondly as an active pastime. 

If this definition holds, golf isn't a first-tier sport at all, but rather a pastime involving skill, much like chess or horseshoes. There are no athletes in pastimes, only in sports. Lacking physical exertion, it follows that Tiger Woods' career as a golfer doesn't make him an athlete at all.

I'm not denying Tiger's prowess at said game; it would be irresponsible to refute his superiority. That being said, let's hold off on the ticker tape parade, shall we? This year's U.S. Open is being touted as the "greatest Open ever," a "fairy tale," and a "drama worthy of HBO."

If I were HBO, I would be rather miffed. How could a game compare to shows about polygamists or Marines in Iraq? Maybe I'm missing something.

Oh, that's right. Tiger was supposed to lose. He was recovering from knee surgery. He was in pain. But he won in sudden death.

Can you feel the drama? Poor little Tiger, the David to Torrey Pines' Goliath. What a story!

Indeed it is a story. Let's not forget a story can be a narrative of either true or, according to the OED, more usually, fictitious events, designed for the entertainment of the hearer or reader.

Many would claim that reality is more riveting than fiction (see Jerry Springer), but nothing compares to historical fiction (see HBO). With Tiger's win at Torrey Pines, a new genre has been born: not historical but present fiction. 

Not even James Michener could have bested the sports media at spinning Tiger's reality into fiction. Watching the build-up to the Open, one would have thought Tiger's left leg was fashioned from twigs and rubber bands after having been shredded by wolves as he pulled three small children from a methane well. Not only that, one would have thought the twigs and rubber bands were attached about five minutes before the tournament began.

Surely, no one had ever surmounted tougher odds than Tiger. What dedication, what grit to play the U.S. Open on a leg of twigs and rubber bands. As Gene Wojciechowski wrote, "If there is a more compelling athlete than Woods, I'd like to see him."

Athlete? We won't go over that again, but compelling? Let's take a look.

My own leg's having been amputated at the knee in a motorcycle accident, then reattached in a groundbreaking procedure, I'm an expert on knees. Not being able to walk for two years, sporting sixteen pins, numerous cadaver parts, lacking a meniscus, a big hunk of muscle and plicae bands, I have particular insight into the surgery that turned Tiger Woods into a modern day Hercules.

Fiction, fiction, fiction.

On April 15, Tiger underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair some damaged cartilage. It's an outpatient procedure from which most patients recover in a long weekend. It's almost painless, and the incisions only take one suture to close. If physical therapy is in order, the patient can either go to a clinic for a day or two or...

Play golf.

That's right. Playing golf, as long as one walks the course, is standard therapy after scoping a knee. My orthopedist forced me to play with his son after I thrice had arthroscopic surgery. Believe me, the pain wasn't coming from my knee.

Tiger Wood's limping around the Pines at the U.S. Open wasn't only melodramatic; it was an affront to anyone who has experienced traumatic injury. It was an insult to severely injured athletes who manage to recover and return to their sport. 

While I don't know Tiger's pain threshold, the image of his dropping to his knees in triumph proved how fictitious his heroic story is. No one who is still "recovering" would ever drop to his or her knees. Not ever. In his giddiness, Tiger forfeited his "dignity" and even his most dedicated bootlicker, Gene Wojciechowski, should have acknowledged the truth.