"Unfortunately, I've been advised that I should not play in the British Open," Woods said in an announcement yesterday. "As I stated at the AT&T National, I am only going to come back when I'm 100 percent ready. I do not want to risk further injury. That's different for me, but I'm being smarter this time. I'm very disappointed and want to express my regrets to the British Open fans."
In April, Tiger Woods was diagnosed with a Grade 1 mild MCL sprain to his left knee and mild strain to his left Achilles tendon, both suffered at hole No. 17 at the Masters. This prompted him to withdraw from the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players Championship.
Woods expressed regret about his injury on his website, reaching out to the fans of the PGA and himself to assure them that he'll be back. What he might not realize is that the PGA he's returning to will be vastly different than the PGA he left.
Ever since that fateful car accident in 2009, followed by the parade of mistresses that never seemed to end, he doesn't have the same stranglehold on the golf audience he once did. With each tournament Woods plays in, fewer and fewer of those mainstream fans who originally tuned in for Woods on Sunday simply aren't there any more.
Golf fans have moved on from Woods, and his poor showings don't help. He has three top-10 finishes in his nine tournaments in 2011, a far cry from the 18 of 22 top-10 finishes in 2009. Even 2010 boasted seven top-10 finishes.
Woods' skills are declining. The 35-year-old's body is wearing down, physically and mentally. He doesn't have the swarms of screaming fans rallying for him anymore. They've moved on to Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson. Woods is not the hero anymore. He's the villain.
His Sunday red no longer invokes fear. It invokes quiet snickers in the clubhouse. It's just a red garment on the shadow of what Woods used to be. Maybe the extra time off will help him get his mind and body right. The allure of Woods isn't what it used to be.
Maybe he still has a shot at Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors. He's still only four majors away, and Nicklaus won his last at the young age of 46. Woods is not that far behind and can pull it off. The bigger question will be how many people will actually care if he does.