We all used to think Tiger Woods was invincible. While nobody in the sports world is perfect, Woods was, for the most part, about as perfect as they came on the golf course, winning what seemed like every major championship over roughly an eight-year period.
But things have changed over the last couple of years, as Woods has not only struggled to find some peace off the golf course, but on it as well. Things got even worse on Tuesday, as Woods announced he would miss this year's U.S. Open at Congressional, due to left knee and leg issues, ending a stretch of 16 consecutive years playing in the National Open.
A lot has been been made about Woods' recurring injuries that have put his long-term golf future in doubt. Members of the media aren't the only ones talking about it. As the Irish Golf Desk pointed out, Graeme McDowell spoke with Sky Sports recently about defending his championship and, of course, Tiger Woods.
While McDowell didn't say Woods' reign at the top is over, he said what the rest of us have been thinking for a while: Will Tiger ever be back to his old self?
"Will he be back? Nobody knows at the minute — there's obviously a lot going on," McDowell told Sky Sports News. "His mental health is one question and his physical health is now another.
"Golf needs him. He has been golf for the last 15 years."
McDowell couldn't have said it any better. Woods fully recovering from his injuries stands to be the biggest factor between him ever returning to his old form, but mentally, this has to be wearing on him as well. This is a guy that single-handedly walked a U.S. Open on one leg and won the thing.
To now have to deal with the continual injuries and know you can't just go out there and gut it out -- you'd assume that's taking a toll. Whether Tiger wants to admit it or not, his body is beyond fragile, and it makes you wonder not just if Woods will ever be able to tee it up and contend in a major this year, but if he'll be able to contend on a consistent basis ever again.