Dis­as­trous show­ing at US Open may be the for the for­mer top golfer

End of the line

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

What was once a glit­ter­ing golf ca­reer is fast turn­ing to dust for Tiger Woods, whose steady de­cline in form has fans and peers ques­tion­ing whether he still has the tal­ent and skill to make it on the fair­ways. Things have not been rosy over the past eight years for the world’s for­mer top golfer.

This con­tin­u­ing dip in form is now be­ing wit­nessed in al­most ev­ery tour­na­ment – big and small – in which Woods has re­cently par­tic­i­pated.

Woods stamped his au­thor­ity on the in­ter­na­tional golf­ing scene by win­ning 14 ma­jors – and looked ready to meet and even beat Jack Nick­laus’ en­vi­able record of 18 wins.

But now, how­ever, it’s fairly cer­tain that Woods will not re­alise such a feat.

The latest twist in his down­ward spi­ral oc­curred last Fri­day when Woods missed the cut for the US Open at Cham­bers Bay Golf Club, Univer­sity Place, Washington.

He shot a dis­as­trous 80 and 76, and fell out by 11 strokes to fin­ish with a two-day to­tal of 156, 16 over par.

This was the first time since 2006 that Woods has failed to bet­ter the re­quired score in this con­test.

Woods, who turns 40 in De­cem­ber, en­joyed ad­mirable suc­cess from 1997 to 2008, dur­ing which he se­cured all the big ti­tles that in­ter­na­tional golf has to of­fer. His last no­table vic­tory was at the 2008 US Open. Prior to that, he rev­elled in the glory of be­ing the world’s top player for five years from 1999 to 2004. How­ever, cracks started to show in 2009. His game started to suf­fer soon af­ter re­ports of in­fi­delity sur­faced.

It was at this stage that many spon­sors an­nounced that they were part­ing ways with Woods.

Woods de­cided to take a break from golf to fo­cus on his mar­riage – but it ob­vi­ously didn’t work as he was soon di­vorced from Elin Norde­gren.

How­ever, his game con­tin­ued to de­cline, with lit­tle sign of im­prove­ment. In 2011, the one-time sports icon slipped to 58th in the world rank­ings.

Woods’ pro­fes­sional ca­reer con­tin­ued to take strain and last year he un­der­went back surgery.

Although con­fi­dent of his re­turn to golf af­ter surgery, Woods has strug­gled to re­turn to strong form on the fair­ways.

His poor form has seen him slip to an em­bar­rass­ing 205th place in the world rat­ings this week.

The sad re­al­ity is that the Tiger Woods of to­day is likely very far from the pro­fes­sional ca­reer en­vis­aged when he was named the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year in 1996 just af­ter turn­ing pro­fes­sional at the age of 20.

He was also one of the high­est-paid ath­letes in the world for sev­eral years.

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