Tiger Woods plummeted depths he has not reached in 14 years when he dropped four spots to 12th in the world rankings issued on Monday.
The former world number one has not triumphed anywhere since the 2009 Australian Masters and has been steadily losing ranking points because of his recent struggles on and off the course.
In Monday’s rankings, Woods is sandwiched by fellow Americans Bubba Watson (in 11th) and Dustin Johnson (13th), the first time he has been out of the top 10 since he was 13th on April 6, 1997.
Ever since his private life unravelled in sensational fashion at the end of 2009 and he tried to repair his crumbling marriage, Woods has been a shadow of the player he once was.
It has been almost three years since he clinched the last of his 14 Major titles and the prospect of adding any more in the near future receded after he withdrew from this month’s Players Championship because of injury.
Aged only 35, Woods has already had four surgeries on his troublesome left knee and his latest injury setback comes at an inconvenient time with the second Major of the year, the US Open, fast approaching.
Woods is a three-times winner of his national open and had initially planned to compete in the Quail Hollow Championship, the Players and then the June 2-5 Memorial tournament to complete his US Open build-up.
However, he was forced to pull out of Quail Hollow because of mild strains to his left knee and left Achilles’ tendon and those same injuries led to his withdrawal from the Players the following week.
Woods is rapidly running out of time in his preparations for the June 16-19 US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
He has repeatedly said he would quit the game whenever he felt he was unable to compete at the highest level.
“For me it is very simple, it (the time to quit) is when my best isn’t good enough any more,” Woods told Reuters shortly before he won his most recent Major at the 2008 US Open.
“I could not live with myself going out and practising and preparing as hard as I do and knowing that if I go out and play my best someone is just going to beat me.”