Tiger Woods’ Career Stuck In The Rough

    It's unimaginable.

    It's even harder to say, but Tiger Woods has reached the pathetic stage of his career.

    Every time out now, you wonder what's going to happen to Woods, what's his next excuse going to be, how poorly will he play.

    Winning isn't even in the equation anymore.

    Not long ago, you could fool yourself into thinking this is going to be the major he is going to finally break through and start winning again.

    Woods, at one time the greatest golfer on the planet by a wide margin, is hurt, limping, wounded.

    Not just his bad back, but his image and standing in the sports world. Despite all he's accomplished, most just frown or scuff at the notion of his greatness because all those major victories seem so long ago.

    On Wednesday, Woods delivered another blow to his career, and fans, when he withdrew his name from consideration as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.

    "I've been told by my doctors and trainer that my back muscles need to be rehabilitated and healed," Woods said in a statement on his website. "They've advised me not to play or practice now. I was fortunate that my recent back injury was not related to my surgery and was muscular only."

    This comes on the heels of many questioning Woods' honesty after he withdrew from the Bridgestone earlier this month with back pain.

    In his third tourney since returning from back surgery, Wood struggled mightily and took himself out after just eight painful holes.

    Worse than the pain itself was that some wondered if Woods was faking the injury because he was playing so poorly and didn't want to miss another cut.

    While harsh, no one knows another man's threshold for pain. It's understandable to question because Woods is such a mystery now. You don't know what to expect or believe anymore.

    He used to be rock-solid, someone you could count on to perform at the highest level. It's just not the case anymore.

    At one time Woods, with 14 major championships (four behind Jack Nicklaus), was must-see TV. Golf ratings spiked and the cost of advertising spots increased if Woods was playing.

    But recently, this has all become a thing of the past. Ratings for a Rory McIIroy's PGA Championship victory were up 36 percent from last year's tournament. They were the biggest ratings for that event since 2009 when Woods finished second.

    It says a lot that even the golf fans who loved Woods and wanted to see as much of Tiger as possible, have moved on. They aren't waiting around anymore, waiting for him to win.

    In 1997, when Tiger Woods burst on the scene, you could have never imagined he would be here so soon; but this is now a thing of the past. That he would suffer through so many injuries and not be able to compete was unfathomable. He was the picture of health and strength, putting most golfers to shame. He was in great shape and well conditioned while most of the other golfers were soft and carrying spare tires.

    We also know he hasn't won a major since his scandal/divorce took him out of action. For you history buffs, Tiger's last major was 2008 when he beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff at the US Open.

    The thrill of him winning another major and passing Nicklaus has slowed big time. Many doubt he has enough left in the tank to get there.

    In a recent radio interview, Nicklaus said he hasn't counted Woods out. "I feel bad for Tiger," he said. "He's really worked towards my record. I still think he'll break my record."

    Nicklaus, 74, is a nice man. But there's a lot of people out there that openly root against Woods after his fall from grace.

    Now wounded and hurt, some fans want to see Woods fail at his attempt of golf immortal greatness.

    The fact remains that Tiger, 38, still has a long way to go, probably another 10 solid years on the tour to get the last five majors he needs to be considered the best golfer there ever was.

    It's clear now that fans aren't waiting around anymore to see if it happens. Yes, as unimaginable as it is, they have moved on.

    Now let’s see if Tiger will have to as well.

    Rob Parker is a columnist for The Shadow League. He is also an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. He co-hosts The Odd Couple on Fox Sports Radio and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.