Johanneburg – Born just two months apart, South African cricketer Jacques Kallis and American golfer Tiger Woods have been forced to accept the effects the relentless march of time has had on their bodies.
Both players are 38 years old, and have had recent struggles with injury.
Kallis last week retired from all international cricket after a poor One Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka as he struggled with lower back pain.
Then on Sunday, Woods, a 14-time Major winner and the undisputed greatest player of his generation, withdrew from the final round of the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational after just eight holes with severe back pain.
Woods had back surgery on March 31. The former world-number one returned to competition after three months – three weeks ahead of his own schedule.
Kallis, meanwhile, retired from Test cricket in December last year but still held out hope of making it to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand starting in February.
The Proteas allrounder played 166 Tests and 328 ODIs for South Africa, and was heralded as one of the greats of the game. Kallis walked away from the sport with the accolade of being the only player to have scored more than 10,000 runs while claiming over 250 wickets in both ODI and Test cricket.
The physical demands of cricket and golf would be difficult to compare and for Woods, there is still hope as the career of a golfer can continue until the player is around 50 years of age, if physically fit.
The latest setback for Woods, however, adds to his list of injuries over the past seven years including knee and Achilles problems.
Woods currently lies second on the list of career PGA tour victories with 79, three behind fellow American Sam Snead.
The last Major win came for Woods in the 2008 US Open, where he was experiencing excruciating pain in his left knee but still managed to claim the title in an 18-hole playoff and then won the first hole of sudden death. Woods had knee surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the following days and missed the rest of the season.
Now, left facing yet another period on the sidelines, it would be interesting to know if Woods could follow the example of Kallis and call it a day if his body is no longer up to the task. – Sapa