Golf has moved on and no longer needs the irrelevant Tiger Woods in 2018

Ernie Els is 500-1 to win the British Open at Carnoustie in July. 

In other words, he hasn’t got a hope.

It’s no surprise, though, considering the last of the four major championships he has on his mantle piece was won back in 2012 at the British Open, 18 years after his maiden title. 

So why would anyone expect the 48-year-old South African to somehow roll back the years in 2018?

Ernie Els is without a tournament win since the 2012 Open Championship

After all, he has barely won a tournament since, has struggled for form and it is widely accepted he is no longer the player he once was.

Plus, when you consider the boundless quality that floods the golfing world as we enter a new season, it further beggars belief that Els could even be considered for a major.

Dustin Johnson continues to improve year-on-year and rightfully sits top of the PGA Tour rankings while it is no coincidence that Jordan Speith had three majors under his belt before his 24th birthday.

Add into the mix the chasing pack, which includes recent major winners in the shape of Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day, and it quickly becomes apparent the sport is currently blessed with an illustrious pool of talent occupying the top spots.

It all bodes well for another exciting, unpredictable season on the tour and, lest we forget, we have a Ryder Cup to look forward to at the end of September.

With all the buzz around that Ryder Cup and the battle for the FedEx Cup, it really is perfectly understandable people aren’t talking about Ernie Els.

So why are people still considering Tiger Woods? 

And why is he a 25-1 shot at the British Open?

Like Els, Woods is past his best and, put bluntly, irrelevant in 2018. 

Woods won his last major TEN years ago when he overcame Rocco Mediate in a play-off at the US Open at Torrey Pines, California.

Tiger Woods is once again on the brink of an apparent comeback in 2018

Since then, he has picked up just three World Golf Championships.

He’s won just eight titles in total since the beginning of 2010, his latest five years ago, and has been involved in more scandals than tournaments in that time. 

Whether it be infidelity, driving offences or recurring injuries, Woods has not been able to enjoy an uninterrupted spell on the PGA Tour in a long, long time. 

Having missed the entire 2016 season, Woods played at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open in January but another lengthy spell away from competitive action soon followed, this time intertwined with a well-publicised arrest in May, before he played the Hero World Challenge at the back end of 2017. 

Despite a solid start, four under through 36 holes, five bogeys in a poor third round took him out of contention and, coupled with a double-bogey and two bogeys on the back nine of his final round, the American finished ten shots behind winner Rickie Fowler in tied ninth of 18. 

Yes, he showed flashes of the old Tiger we once knew and most definitely once loved, the global icon who dominated and transcended the sport around the turn of the century. 

But there were only glimpses. 

To contemplate this being the start of a comeback of Lazarus-esque proportions in pursuit of a 15th major title would be nothing short of naive. 

Four spinal surgeries in the past four years? Seriously?

Tiger Woods’ mugshot following his arrest in Florida in May 2017

Woods will begin his 2018 season by returning to the site of his latest major, Torrey Pines, for the Farmers Insurance Open, starting tomorrow after struggling during the ProAm event earlier in the week.

But recent history will not provide pleasant memories for Woods – last year he missed the cut, the two years before he was injured and in 2014 he tied for 80th.

It all means we find ourselves in the same boat once again: is this Tiger’s comeback year where he miraculously rediscovers the form of the early noughties and sweeps the rest of the field away?

Answer: no.

Woods was one of the greatest golfers ever. Was. 

But at 42, he is already past his best and each failed comeback is another blot on a rapidly-diminishing reputation.

To think Woods can rediscover his form from more than a decade ago is nothing short of naive

Even if he was in contention, the only plausible destination for that elusive major would be Augusta. 

And that’s being generous. 

He loves the course and has won four green jackets but Shinnecock Hills [US Open], Carnoustie [British Open] and Bellerive [US PGA] all possess their own challenges for any player, let alone one continually on the failing comeback trail.

USA captain Jim Furyk should save himself the sleepless nights and unwarranted tirade of abuse by not even considering Woods for a place in the Ryder Cup team bound for Paris this autumn. 

Say it quietly but who still cares about Tiger Woods and why should they? 

The sport moved on a long time ago and Woods has well and truly been left behind. 

Tiger may need golf, but golf certainly doesn’t need Tiger anymore.

Joshua Jones

Tiger Woods is desperately clinging on to a sport that moved on without him a long time ago
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