Tiger Woods is scheduled to meet U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin at the PGA Championship this week with his golf game now appearing to resemble what has happened to his private life this past year -- a total shambles. And unless there is a dramatic improvement at Whistling Straits, it really does look open to doubt whether Woods will be at Celtic Manor in October.
The only good thing that he could take out of the worst performance of his entire career last week was that it didn’t cost him the world No. 1 spot.
That was only because Phil Mickelson, needing a top-4 finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to topple Woods, managed only 46th after a terrible closing 78. But Mickelson's late demise, revealing though that was about him, still didn’t come close to the weeklong meltdown suffered by the man who has now been at the head of the rankings for the last 270 weeks and for 612 weeks in all.
Woods tied for 78th out of 80 players in a tournament he had won on his previous four attempts and a record seven times in all -- and nowhere before has he handed in an 18-ove- par total.
The U.S. Ryder Cup qualifying race ends at Whistling Straits on Sunday. Woods is 10th on the table, but only the leading eight earn automatic places.
Like predecessor Paul Azinger, Pavin is to take three weeks before naming his four wild cards. But no matter how much he might want Woods -- and that is debatable given how well Azinger's side did without him -- the big question is how much Woods wants to play.
With his mind seemingly elsewhere and his form at an all-time low, albeit with the contest still seven weeks away, it might not be no a surprise to see Woods opt out.
Asked if he wanted to play, he replied before leaving Akron: "Not playing like this, definitely not, not playing like this. I mean, I wouldn't help the team if I'm playing like this. No one would help the team if they're shooting 18 over par."
On whether he would pick himself, Woods said: "I think I can turn it around, but we've got a lot of time between now and then, which is good."
After taking four months off when his sex scandal came to light last November, another extended break cannot be ruled out.
"I don't know," he commented when that possibility was put to him. "I'm just going to be ready for Thursday."
Woods chose not to go into too many specifics about his display at Firestone, but did comment: "The club is behind me. I lower, then try and whip it out in front of me, but it's too late. It's not a good combo.
"It's tough -- the only thing I can say all week is I was patient and unfortunately that's not enough,” he added. "I went through something like this when I kind of tore my swing apart after basically the Masters in '97. It took me two years to get it back before I started playing well.
"It is what it is. I've got to be ready come Thursday, that's all that matters."
Asked if he was surprised just how far he had fallen he answered: "No, it doesn't surprise me at all, actually. It's been a long year."