He ruled golf for over a decade. He notched the second most wins in golf history. He bested the competition in the second most majors ever. Tiger Woods was transcendent for the game of golf and potentially the greatest golfer to ever live.
However, his prime is over. The fist pump long gone. The wins have all stopped coming for Tiger. We all knew it would happen eventually and maybe we didn’t want it to come but it has most certainly arrived.
But we haven’t embraced it. Many in the sports world are still clinging to the notion that he can still do it. ESPN regularly reports on Woods and tracks his play incessantly. Every commercial on still advertises Tiger as part of the main event. The media still hounds him and treats him as the king of his sport.
If you were an outsider looking at the amount of coverage Woods receives, you would still think he was performing at a high level, when in reality, Tiger is playing worse than ever. Forever, it was a formality that Woods would pass Sam Snead for the most wins on the PGA Tour in history. Tiger hasn’t recorded a win since 2013 though and has only two top-25 finishes in the last two years. It was presumed as well that Tiger would make a run at Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championships. However, 2008 was the last time Woods claimed a major title and he hasn’t finished even in the top five of a major since the 2013 Masters.
Woods has hit a dead point. His game has failed him entirely culminating in the dumpster fire that was Tiger’s last place finish at this past weekend’s Memorial Tournament. He finished an atrocious +14 on the weekend including his third round score of 85. It was a pathetic performance from Woods, but the media ate it up and I continued to get updates about his play all weekend long on sources such as EPSN and Bleacher Report.
As sad as it may be to say it, it is time to move on from Woods. Maybe not permanently but for some time before he is relevant again. There is no reason not to follow his performance or cheer for him to recapture his greatness, but until the greatness is back, there is no reason for him to be plastered all over everything related to golf. Woods is not a good player right now. He sits 181st in the World Golf Rankings, the worst he has been ranked since September 21st, 1996, before his first career win.
If I remember correctly, no one was raving about Rory Sabbatini (I will be impressed if you actually know who that is) this time last year. Sabbatini was the 181st ranked golfer at the end of 2014. Sabbatini has since climbed to 127th spot in the rankings. Obviously, I am not comparing the two as golfers on a who was better level, but you get the idea.
Never has someone so buried in the rankings been so hotly discussed. I am not trying to take away from what Woods has accomplished but the reality is that he is no longer that same player. He is a 39-year old man with chronic back pain in a sport deemed terrible for your back. He has battled wrist and knee pain separately in the last few years and continues to look lost on the golf course. His game has regressed considerably to the point where he can barely compete at the top level at times.
Don’t take this the wrong way. Tiger Woods was an incredible golfer and athlete. He might be the best golfer of all-time but he has completely lost that form. I think it might still be possible for him to regain it with some more work. Woods has spent way too much time trying to find the perfect golf game and has over analyzed his game to a fault. He can slowly chip his way back into relevance. Until then though, it’s time to stop follow Tiger’s every stroke and let golf go on without the once great Woods at the center of attention.