I'm sure that I'm not the first one to write the obituary for Tiger Woods' career, and I'm certain that I won't be the last. But it's time to lay it all out on the line: Tiger Woods is essentially done, at this point.
When he fell from grace, everyone expected some kind of slip-up. There's no doubt. But not like this. His 18-over par was his worst finish as a pro, and he looked worse, at times, during the Bridgestone Invitational.
So here we are, looking at a previously-unfathomable occurrence: Tiger Woods might not pass Jack Nicklaus as the all-time leader in major championships. The Reilly column says it better than I ever will be able to, other than to say that there was a time, as a non-golf fan, when a Tiger appearance was a reason to watch the sport. The way he intimidated other golfers reminded me of Michael Jordan in his prime, toying with people he knew he was better than.
Now, though, the story of Tiger and His Mistress(es) will forever be tied to his golf game. It could have just been a speed bump, a minor hiccup in an otherwise remarkable career. With the way he's performed since he's come back, however, even if he returns to form, this mess is a major chapter: The Dark Period.
Unless he never gets it back. Unless he fails to take aim at that Nicklaus mark and accomplish what once seemed like a foregone conclusion. If he never goes back to that place, this becomes the story. This is the story.
Tiger could apparently play while being distracted. But he cannot, as of this point, play while the world knows he's distracted. It's easy to sit back and play armchair psychologist (or prognosticator) and to judge a sport that I've never enjoyed much less played, but here it is: My money's on Tiger failing to capture the all-time mark.
If, a year from now, he's on an unprecedented tear, winning everything under the sun, I'll be happy to write a mea culpa. I'd love if Tiger roared back to form and started making golf interesting to guys like me again. Unfortunately, I just don't see it happening.