When Tiger Woods' career ends, what he does or doesn't do will be defined by this season.
Forget about the fact that he has won no majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. Forget about the fact that he was one of the best players ever before. This season will define the rest of his career.
The most notable place where this shows is in Tiger's pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 career majors. Tiger can't go four years without winning a major only to realistically expect that four more will come at some point.
That isn't how it works in sports. If the wins aren't coming in your early 30's, they are not going to come in your late 30's.
But that doesn't mean Woods is done. Since injuring himself in 2008 and missing the entire season after winning the U.S. Open, Tiger hasn't played enough golf to seriously judge.
He has been constantly hurt and has had to deal with obvious problems in his personal life. It is fair to say that golf hasn't been his top priority.
Now, he is out of excuses. The health is there and while the personal life issues will never go away, they are far enough removed to where they can't be used as a real excuse. We are seeing him contending in tournaments, playing well in the Presidents Cup, even winning his own event.
That needs to turn into wins this year, including at least one in a major. If he wins a major, then there is reason to believe Woods will get to Nicklaus' mark. It would show that he is firmly back and that the problems are behind him.
To win a major, he will need to overcome the obstacle of winning anything. Winning the Chevron World Challenge with a shortened field at a course he knows like the back of his hand is nice, but not enough of a confidence jolt.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that he has to win the AT&T this week, but he does need to show well and win shortly. As the golf season shifts from Woods' old home of California to his present home of Florida, Woods needs to assert his dominance.
It is unrealistic to expect that he won't win anything before Augusta, but will roll out and win the Masters in April.
That is not going to happen.
This won't be the last year of Tiger's career, but we'll know how realistic that major record is after this year. If he wins a major this year, then 18 is still a realistic number.
On the other side, if he doesn't, we will likely continue to speculate on whether he will, but the answer will be a firm no.
Woods needs a good year this year and it has to start early. Looking at predictions, don't expect him to win at Pebble Beach. He has still played relatively sparingly this year. The meat of his schedule won't come for a few more weeks.
He will play well, and a top five performance should be expected from just about everyone. Look for Woods to play well in Florida this year and when the season is over, he'll have more than 14 majors.
Woods needs to win a major and he knows it. When Tiger needs something, betting against him is a poor idea.