Out of Bounds: Tiger Woods struggles at 2012 Masters, career in question

He was supposed to be the tournament favorite. He was supposed to earn his fifth green jacket. He was supposed to reclaim his throne as the greatest golfer in the world. Since his disaster of a performance at the 2012 Masters tournament on April 2 – 8, however, I am convinced that Tiger Woods is done for good.

Just to get this straight, I am not a Tiger Woods hater, although growing up in a household where Woods is considered both a royal king and the worst man alive has made it difficult to pick one side or another. I simply believe that Woods’ career is over because he hasn’t been nearly the same golfer since his 2009 sex scandal.

Look at this year’s Masters for example. At the beginning of the tournament, Woods seemed on track, shooting an even 72 in the first round. In the second round though, Woods’ score of 75 arguably took away all of his chances - well, if he had any to begin with.

In the third round, Woods posted another even 72, so it wasn’t until the fourth round that Woods truly fell. This wasn’t a comeback that the old Woods would’ve done easily. Five bogeys in the final round ensured him a tie for 40th place alongside Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Australia’s Aaron Baddeley and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

Woods’ five-over-par total of 293 was his worst Masters performance yet. He didn’t break par in any of the rounds – a first in his 16 appearances at Masters Tournaments.

Even Woods knows how badly he’s doing.

“I didn’t hit the ball very good this week,” he said. “And what’s frustrating is I know what to do and I just don’t do it.”

What happened to the Woods from late March? Just a tournament before at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods claimed his first win since the 2009 scandal, which was possibly the greatest downfall ever in sports.

“It does feel good. It feels really good,” Woods stated before signing his card. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”

I must agree that that victory was a big step for Woods. It seemed like he was finally moving in the right direction. Looking back now, though, it isn’t as much of an accomplishment seeing as he crashed and burned at the Masters just two weeks later.

So the big question is: What changed in the two weeks? Woods was as ready as he could be for the weeklong competition.

“I am excited, no doubt … I’m looking forward to the momentum I’ve built here,” he said.

From what I saw, Woods only seemed tentative, scared, nervous and frustrated at the Masters. The “superstar” threw and kicked his clubs more than once, to the point that it was funny, yet pathetic.

Clearly, Woods needs to find consistency, focus and control before he can ascend to the rank of No. 1 golfer again. Even if he does find his game again, I don’t think he’ll be the same Tiger Woods that thrived before 2009. If he does in fact make a comeback, he will be a new Tiger Woods that we’ve never seen before. Perhaps this fresh start will bring more success for Woods.

Until then though, we should all assume that the Tiger Woods that we used to know is gone. There’s not point guessing when he will return, whether as the old or the new. And I hate to break it to all of you, but a comeback is not likely.

I’ll be focusing on picking the next top golfer, and let me tell you, they’re far from Tiger Woods.