Hank Haney, Tiger Woods' former coach, feels that Woods will struggle to ever regain his best form.
The former world number one underwent back surgery for a third time last week, having been forced into a return procedure to relieve discomfort following his second microdiscectomy surgery in September.
Woods has failed to win a title since August 2013, with a combination of injury, loss of form and off-course distractions seeing him fall to 362nd in the latest world rankings.
Despite this, it is hard to write off a player of such immense talent, but as Woods continues to struggle just to stay fit and maintain a solid swing, it seems less and less likely that Woods will return to the top of the game.
"He’s on bed rest and we don’t know when he’s going to come back," Haney told SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio of Woods.
"Now I think the real question switches to ‘When will we ever see Tiger again? Will we ever see Tiger again? And what will his game be like?’ I don’t think this really changes much as far as I can tell in terms of my diagnosis of the situation. My diagnosis is the fact that he’s missed so much time. … You add up the knee injury, you add up the scandal, you add up everything you want to add up and it equals six-and-a-half years of the last nine years.
"You take a superior athlete – I don’t care what sport they are in – and you take them out of their sport for six out of nine years, and then you couple that to the fact that it is a 40-year-old professional athlete, so you are competing against a lot of great young players that just seemingly get better all the time, that aren’t scared of you because they’ve, frankly, a lot of them have never seen his greatness, at least they’ve never competed against it, and you think, ‘How can you get your game back?’ And especially when your game is in the state that Tiger’s was in last year, which was not good.”
Woods has once again been in the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent days, with his former caddie, Steve Williams, writing in his upcoming book that he felt like Woods' "slave" while working for the 39-year-old, and that Woods would spit at holes when he failed to sink putts.
Commenting on Williams' claims, Haney said that there was likely to be an element of sensationalism around the comments, but that Williams wasn't one to peddle non-truths.
“I think you have to consider when you have these books, the excerpts are always going to be the most outlandish things," Haney said. "You saw it with my book, ‘The Big Miss.’ You saw it with Joe Torre’s book. You see it with every book that comes out. Big books, they want to promote them and they pick out the most inflammatory statements they can.
"He’s talking about some of the things Tiger did that he didn’t like, that he would spit at the hole if he missed a putt. I, frankly, have to admit I don’t remember ever seeing that. But I will say this, Steve Williams is the last person in the world that would lie. He just doesn’t do it, so obviously that happened.”