By Ann Liguori
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So many questions linger about the player who dominated the game for so many years. From 2000 to October of 2010, Tiger Woods ranked number 1 in the world every week but 32 weeks! This week, Tiger’s ranking sunk to No. 12. He hasn’t been ranked that low since just before winning his first Major at the 1997 Masters!

He has not won since November 2009 at the Australian Masters. That drought must seem like eternity for the former superstar who won 14 Major titles and earned 71 PGA Tour victories.

Tiger said yesterday that his doctors told him that he should be “ready to go” by the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday, June 16, at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. If that is the case, and it should be, Tiger will have played only nine holes in a tournament since The Masters in April — the first nine at the Players Championship on May 12, before withdrawing after pain suffered in his left knee, left Achilles and calf. He shot 42 on the front nine and called it a day. It has been reported that he practiced a bit last week.

Prior to The Players Championship, Tiger strained his left knee and injured his Achilles during the third round of the Masters and still finished tied for fourth.

Will he ever be 100 percent again physically? He is 35 years old and has already been through four different surgical procedures on his left knee (including reconstructive anterior cruciate ligament surgery in 2008) with countless other injuries and nagging pain.

Forget about the questions about dominating ever again, what about ever winning again? And as I mentioned in a previous column, how about the toll all his physical issues combined with his personal turmoil have taken on his mental game and confidence? It’s tough to be close to 100 percent mentally when you don’t know how your knee will react to various swings from various angles and ‘lies’ on the course.

At least the lingering physical issues have taken attention off of his personal life.

And another change is the fact that his long-time agent, Mark Steinberg, who headed up the IMG golf division, did not renew his contract and is no longer with IMG. That just happened yesterday. I’m guessing that Tiger will leave IMG as well and join Steinberg, whether Steinberg joins another firm or goes into business for himself. (IMG said Guy Kinnings and Robbie Henchman would take over as co-heads of IMG Golf. Kinnings was senior vice president of European golf operations, while Henchman was senior vice president of golf in Asia Pacific. Alastair Johnston, the vice chairman of IMG, will oversee the business of the golf division.)

Tiger enjoyed an unprecedented reign at the top for so many years, enjoying life in a rarefied stratosphere. What a difference a day, or three years makes! Whether Tiger gets back to winning form or goes down fighting, he still remains one of the most intriguing stories in sports.

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Will Tiger get back to his winning ways? Let Ann know in the comments below…

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