Will Tiger Woods play at the 2015 US Masters

With the news that Tiger Woods has fallen out of the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings, loveaflutter takes a look at one of the most dramatic falls from grace in sporting history and asks will golf’s former No. 1 make a return at this year’s 2015 US Masters?

Having turned professional in 1996, Tiger Woods dominated the world of golf for almost 15 years and was one of the highest paid athletes in the world for nearly a decade. He was to golf what Mike Tyson was to boxing or Roger Federer was to tennis.

Tyson’s demise was pretty spectacular from boxing. He went from heavyweight champion in the late 80s and early 90s to a beaten and bankrupt fighter by the mid-2000s.

However, boxing is different from golf in the fact that the career span is a lot shorter. Tiger Woods should be at the peak of his playing days, but he is a long way off that.

He has won the Professional Golf’s Association’s player of the year award on 11 occasions and when he won his last major golf tournament, in 2008, he was quickly chasing down Jack Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18 major golf tournament trophies to be crowned, if he wasn’t already, the best golfer the world has ever seen.

He had 14 major golf tournament trophies to his name the time, but now, at the age of 39, when he should still be in his prime, Tiger Woods looks like he will never win another major golf tournament or even come close to competing at the top end of the game.

So what have been the reasons behind Tiger Woods fall from golf’s No. 1 at the start of this decade to 104th in the world by April 2015.

Many people will point to matters in his personal life and when you look at the timing of his demise, on and off the golf course, it is so easy to link the two.

After the news broke that he had cheated on his wife Elin Nordegren, in 2009, with more than a dozen women coming forward to claim that they had had affairs with Tiger Woods, he announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from golf.

Tiger Woods came back to compete in the 2010 US Masters and finished in a respectable tie for fourth. However, the rest of the season went badly for Californian. He withdrew in the fourth round of that year’s Players’ Championship, citing injury and split from his long-time coach Hank Haney.

However, I think it would be wrong to just pin-point Tiger Woods’ demise all on off-the-field problems. Injury is certainly the main cause of his demise. In April 2008, he underwent knee surgery and missed the next two months on the Professional Golf’s Association’s tour. Yes he returned to win the 2008 US Open in June of that year, beating Rocco Mediate on the first hole of sudden-death play-off, but he underwent further surgery on his knee after that.

He returned in 2009 to help the USA to victory in the Presidents Cup, but he failed to win a major golf tournament that season, which was the first time he had done so since 2004. All this was before the revelations about his private life, but you can quite clearly see a decline in his performance even then.

During a brief comeback in 2013 Tiger Woods was again the PGA Tour leading money winner, but he had a poor showing at the 2013 US Open and, as a result of an elbow injury, recorded his worst ever score as a professional.

Back pain has also blighted his career ever since and he and his swing coach Sean Foley have also parted ways.

Tiger Woods is currently on another indefinite break from the sport, so his tumbling down the world ranking is hardly surprising as if he doesn’t play he doesn’t earn points.

However, he could be set to make a return next week in the 2015 US Masters tournament at Augusta?

Woods’ plane has been spotted in Georgia and, after reports of some decent rounds at his course in California, odds are tumbling on him making a return.

However, is Tiger Woods set to be in contention for the 2105 US Masters and collect his fifth win in this competition. The answer is no. If he is competitive that will be a step in the right direction, but even odds of 45/1 to win look short from bookies.

Champion Bubba Watson, who has won two of the last three US Masters tournament, and claimed victory by three strokes last year, looks a decent bet at 11/1.

Current World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is favourite though at 11/2, with most bookmakers. However, he has only won four major golf tournaments to date and the US Masters isn’t one of them. He suffered with the pressure of trying to claim his first major golf tournament at Augusta in 2011 when leading by four shots, going into the final day’s play. Then he shot the worst round of any professional leading after the third round at the US Masters in history to finish at -4 and totally out of the running. That same pressure of course won’t be on him now, but Augusta is clearly not one of his favourite courses.

Jordan Speith, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson also appear to be in the running to win the 2015 US Masters if the odds from the bookies are anything to go by.

Tiger Woods needs to convince a few people before he will be back among the favourites.