The slow and uneventful death of Tiger Woods as a professional golfer is excruciating to watch.
Wednesday's must-see TV didn't involve Tiger hammering a drive down the fairway. It was a waiting game to see if he would play in the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club this weekend.
Tiger finally showed up for a practice round and media pow-wow, declaring himself ready to play and presumably in shape to tee off Thursday morning despite his persistent back problems.
"Pain free, except talking to you guys," Tiger said.
At least Tiger has emerged from his reclusive dark shadows and developed a sense of humor.
His marketing value has been downgraded significantly. We've gone from screaming "Woah Tiger!" to wondering "Where's Tiger?"
Great athletes who transcend their sport only come along every so often. Jordan, Manning, Gretzky, Petty. We marvel at their greatness, starstuck by their potential and possibility to achieve things out of the scope of mere mortals.
But nowadays, we look at Woods and feel compelled to sign up for a pity party.
He is done. Stick a fork in him. Finished. Finito.
Woods has already missed the Masters and the U.S. Open this year with because of his persistent back problems. And even when he's made the cut, Woods has disappeared on the leaderboard, dropping to 69th at the Open Championship last month.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that he no longer evokes an emotional outcry. Everyone who has cheered him on despite his personal peccadilloes know that it's best to put the pom-poms away. Everyone who loathed him for his indiscretions with a Perkins waitress and other affairs probably doesn't have the energy to scream anymore.
Tiger Woods has become Mr. Irrelevant.
And that's the most damning curse you can put on someone who has been the face of professional golf since winning the Masters by a record-breaking 12 strokes in 1997.
Like your 85-year-old grandmother, Woods has chronic back problems. Grandma has the benefit of taking two Advil and resting comfortably while watching reruns of The Golden Girls. Woods faces the demands of still working for a living, which leads to golf balls spraying all over assorted courses, multi-bogie scores, and having to withdraw from tournaments, as he did last weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Nothing can fix this.
The numbers don't lie:
Simply compare his stats from his first 46 majors to the last 19.
Victories: 14. Since then, 0-19.
Tops 3s? He had 22. Since then? Zero.
Missed cuts? One. Since then? Two.