Tiger Woods doesn't remotely resemble the dominant golfer he once was. He may still be ranked 10th in the world, but his recent play really doesn't warrant a position in the top 50.
The 14-time major winner has struggled mightily since returning from back surgery, and based on his recent performances, he's in no condition to continue playing competitive golf. After watching his grimacing reactions following his reworked swing, the Golf Channel begged the appropriate question:
That painful performance resulted back-to-back scores of 74, leading to a total of six over par and another missed cut.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted some telling statistics that allude to what Woods has become:
Tiger Woods: 3 birdies this week; matches his fewest combined birdies and eagles in a major (as professional or amateur)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 8, 2014
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
With that result now in the books, here's a look at Woods' tournament results since returning from back surgery: missed cut at the Quicken Loans National, placed 69th in the British Open, withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and missed cut at the PGA Championship.
That certainly doesn't sound like a golfer who was once compared to the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
If Woods continues this trend, he not only risks tarnishing his own legacy, but due to his popularity, the sport of golf could suffer as a whole. After all, no matter your feelings on Woods, he remains the game's biggest draw.
Will Woods ever match Nicklaus' 18 major victories?
There's only one solution to this quagmire: Woods must take the necessary time to step away from golf and ensure his health is fully restored before returning.
We all know Woods' desire to accumulate major wins—he would love to surpass Nicklaus' total of 18. However, in his current state, not only will he fail to emerge victorious in another, but he risks further damaging his back and possibly taking himself out of the game altogether.
So far, Woods has begun to take the correct path. According to Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel, the former world No. 1 has ended his season:
@TigerWoods will not play next week’s Wyndham Championship, which means his 2013-14 PGA Tour season is over.— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) August 9, 2014
Of course, that is pending an invite to the Ryder Cup.
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger shared his thoughts on a potential appearance by Woods at this year's tournament during a press conference, via BBC.com.
Said Azinger, "I don't see how you can take an injured player who's not playing well. I don't think I would [pick Woods]."
We'll have to wait and see if American captain Tom Watson feels the same way.
Should Woods' missed cut at the PGA Championship truly mark the end of his season, a lengthy rehabilitation over the offseason should be his top priority. Extending his recovery time well into next year should certainly be considered as well—even if it means missing the 2015 Masters.
That may be the only way Woods will avoid more post-tournament comments like this one, via PGA Tour, in the future:
Tiger after missing the cut: "That was tough. I hit a lot of shots out there, 74 of them. It was a long day." http://t.co/HCtK6pykUF— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 9, 2014
This is a crucial time in the career of golf's most polarizing figure. Woods' next move could determine if we will ever see him live up to his true potential again.