By Steve Silverman
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The story is a painful one for those who have followed Tiger Woods’ achievements throughout his career.
The mug shot that came along Monday showing an out-of-it Woods looking blankly into the camera after his suspicion of DUI arrest was another strike against the golfer who was on track to become the best whoever played the game a decade ago.
It all began to unravel with his highly embarrassing divorce, in which he apparently had a number of affairs outside his marriage to Elin Nordegren, and which ultimately led to a robotic confession in front of the camera.
While many celebrities inside and outside of the sporting world stray in their marriages, Woods had cultivated a pristine family-man image, and the revelations along with his wife’s decision to reject his confessions and apologies took the sheen off of his persona.
Still, as nasty as some of the stories were, it didn’t have much to do with his golfing ability – or so we thought.
Woods’ last major championship came in 2008, with a heroic victory at the U.S. Open, in which he competed with a knee problem that would require surgery.
Woods has had myriad knee, back and elbow issues that would take away from his game. The once-flexible swing that attacked every shot with a vicious torque that had rarely been seen before seemed to disappear before our eyes.
There have been a series of up-and-down forays back into and out of golf, surgery and rehab over the years that have started to become predictable.
Woods did manage to have an excellent 2013 season, with five victories, but physical issues took over his game at the end of that year, and he hasn’t been competitive since.
The cycle appeared to be trending upward as recently as last week.
“I haven’t felt this good in years,” he wrote on his website. “As for returning to competitive golf, the long-term prognosis is positive. All I can do is take it day by day. There’s no hurry. But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.”
The picture that emerged Memorial Day did not look like a dedicated player who would eventually return to his spot at the top of the golf ladder. It was anything but positive.
An explanation that emerged regarding pain medication doesn’t help all that much and sounds like an excuse. Woods proffered that his look and erratic driving had nothing to do with an alcohol-related impairment. The subsequent police report confirmed that he did not have alcohol in his system.
Look at his own words from a week ago. He said he had not felt this good in years, and if that were really the case, why would he have to take so much medication that it would require a stoppage from the police and his subsequent booking in Jupiter, Florida?
Woods hasn’t had any discernible success on the tour since ’13, and he hasn’t had Tiger Woods-like success in nearly a decade.
He is a 41-year-old man who is beset with physical and emotional problems, who is caught in a painful downward cycle that he can’t seem to escape.
The physical issues themselves appear to be too much for him to overcome, and his actions away from the golf course indicate a troubled man who can’t come to grips with his place in the world any longer.
It is a long, painful descent that shows no signs of stopping. A hero who was once known for his spectacular achievements on the golf course is now known for his personal and physical problems.
The chances of redemption appear to be very slim at this point, and his latest debacle comes with a sense of hopelessness and finality.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy