(Photo source: Mirror Sport via Twitter)
*Tiger Woods was the dominant force in golf in the 2000s, winning 12 of his 14 majors during the decade.
It seemed as though it would be only a matter of time before Woods surpassed the legendary Jack Nicklaus and his all-time record of 17 crowns at the top of the sport.
However, since triumphing at the US Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines, he has failed to add to his collection due to a number of injuries and a lack of form on the course.
For the first time in his career in 2016, Woods failed to compete at any major, tumbling down the world rankings after previously being a permanent fixture at the top of the standings.
The 41-year-old’s latest off-the-course misdemeanour has highlighted his fall from grace as the world’s leading golfer as well as a man with a powerful personal brand, the envy of almost all sportsmen.
Woods now faces his biggest battle yet to rebuild his image – not only in the sport, but also in his personal life. Conquering his psychological demons may prove to be just as pivotal as to any technical issues he may face on the course.
However, he will be forced to watch the US Open and the current stars of the game battle it out for the crown.
Dustin Johnson has been one of the men that has taken over the mantle as the leading golfer to emerge from the States. He missed The Masters due to suffering a back injury one day before the start of the tournament, which will make him determined to make up for lost time.
The 30-year-old leads a strong field vying for the crown, and comes in at 13/2 for the win with the bookies. He’s an attractive proposition for veteran punters, as is Rory McIlroy at 10/1. For newcomers learning how to bet on golf though, SportsBet’s blog offers a comprehensive introduction to wagering on the sport and players like McIlroy.
(Photo source: Jen Austria via Twitter)
Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Masters winner Sergio Garcia will also be aiming to win the second major of 2017.
The competition at the top of the game at the moment highlights the difficulty that Woods will face even if he is able to put his injury and personal problems to one side and find his form again to compete at the highest level.
It’s almost a decade since Woods won his last major. Since then, his best result is a second-place finish at the PGA Championship in 2009. He has not finished inside the top 10 of a Slam since 2013 when he placed on tied-sixth at The Open, although in the same year he did win two World Championship events triumphing at the Cadillac Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational.
At the peak of his powers, Woods is capable of mounting a dominant run once again and the game would dearly love to see him operate at an extremely high level to add at least one more crown to his name. However, his bid to surpass Nicklaus that seemed all but a certainty in 2008 is now looking beyond improbable.