Five years may not seem like all that long of a time to most people, but Tiger Woods is not most people. In 2008, Woods was the most highly-endorsed athlete in the world and had just won his 14th major golf tournament, just four shy of breaking Jack Nicklaus’s record for most major victories.
Today, however, Woods is still searching for his 15th major victory. Since his last major win five years ago, Tiger has lost many of his major endorsements, even the video game named after him, Tiger Woods’s PGA Tour.
In the past five years, Tiger has appeared in 18 major appearances and only earned six top-five finishes. For most players, this would be pretty good, but not for Woods. Not for the child prodigy who was named Golf Digest’s player of the year at age 15 and was an all-American in his first year at Stanford University. Tiger Woods was always destined to be something special.
Now, at age 37, Tiger’s career has hit a speed bump. Woods has switched caddies, messed with his swing and has even changed clubs, but none of that has mattered. In the final round in major tournaments over the past five years, Woods has shot over-par seven times and missed the weekend cut twice in 18 majors. This is especially troubling for Woods, considering Woods was once known for strong closing rounds in tournaments. When tied or in the lead heading into the final round of competition, Tiger has won 14 out of those 15 tournaments, with the only loss coming in the PGA Championship in 2009.
If Woods is to ever win another major, 2014 may be the year to end his drought. Woods has won at Augusta National four times, and once each at Royal Liverpool and Valhalla, sites of this year’s British Open and the PGA Championship, respectively. This year’s U.S. Open is at Pinehurst, where Woods has finished third and second in two previous tournaments there.
The door has not shut completely for Tiger, though. Nicklaus had 14 major victories at age 38, the same as Woods. However, only Ben Hogan has won five majors after his 38th birthday, which Woods would need to accomplish to break the record. The odds are stacked against Woods, but there is still a chance he can be the greatest golfer of all time. The window is closing quickly, however. Woods is facing stiffer competition than Nicklaus did during his career. Young players like Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are entering their primes and stand in the way of Woods’s pursuit of Nicklaus’s record.
So whether it’s old age, the distraction of his messy divorce or multiple injuries catching up to Woods, one thing is clear: It is no longer Tiger Woods’s PGA Tour.