At any point in the career of arguably the greatest golfer to ever live, it seemed impossible to fathom that Tiger Woods could endure the current slump he's mired in.
And it got worse on Friday. SportsCenter had the news:
Tiger Woods' disappointing PGA Championship comes to an end. Tiger finishes +3 on day, +6 on tournament, misses cut. pic.twitter.com/yrQrrqId7w— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 8, 2014
ESPN Stats & Info had more:
This is the 4th time that Tiger Woods has missed the cut in a major as a pro (last was 2011 PGA Championship)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 8, 2014
Woods missed the cut in his return to competition from back surgery at the Quicken Loans National, made the weekend on the number at the British Open and withdrew during the final round of last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Now he has been cut after 36 holes at the 2014 PGA Championship.
After opening with a three-over 74, the four-time winner of this major event posted a 74 again on Friday, putting him six strokes off the cut line.
Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner weighed in on Woods' lackluster performance at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, where the superstar captured the Wanamaker Trophy back in 2000:
Tiger says his back went out again on the range at Valhalla. Why he played: "I'm not exactly a non-stubborn person."— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) August 8, 2014
More Tiger, after a missed cut at the PGA: "I tried as hard as I could. That's all I've got."— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) August 8, 2014
Justin Ray of Golf Channel alluded to just how much of a deficit Woods was facing to fulfill his perpetual expectations of winning—much less faring well enough to play the weekend—during the first round:
Tiger Woods is +3 through 14. In his 79 PGA TOUR wins, he's never had a 1st round score to par worse than +2.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 7, 2014
Ron Green Jr. of Global Golf Post documented what Woods' playing partner and multiple major champion Padraig Harrington had to say after witnessing firsthand Woods' difficult start to the PGA Championship:
Padraig Harrington's assessment after 18 holes w/Tiger Woods: "The man looks like he needs to play some golf." Greensboro perhaps?— RonGreenJr (@RonGreenJr) August 7, 2014
Woods was out for the first two majors in 2014, and he's only had three tournament appearances under his belt since early March. He exited the latter of the three (at Firestone) because of a back injury.
Still, Woods has declared himself healthy and shouldn't have any restrictions—at least theoretically. The problem appears to be a lack of feel for his game amid the heat of competition.
Rust still is an evident factor as Woods seeks to reascend to his familiar perch atop the world rankings. It's hard to fault him for performing below expectations given his limited reps this season. Trying to get both physically and mentally ready for such a high-profile tournament without much tangible, recent experience to draw on had to be difficult.
When will Tiger Woods win his next major?
USA Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson will be hard-pressed to endow Woods with one of his three at-large picks for the team after how poorly he played at Valhalla.
Not competing at the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles nor the FedEx Cup playoffs would truly make this a lost year for Woods. Approaching age 39 in December, he can seldom afford seasons like these any longer, though it's perhaps for the best in the long run that Woods takes some time off toward the end of the calendar year.
Health permitting, Woods has the game to last for years to come, but more than ever before, he has a lot to prove with regard to his future and his ability to contend in majors, much less win any more of them.