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Woods' goose is cooked. Time to stick a fork in him . . .

Is it just me or are pub menus incredibly violent these days?

Tiger Woods withdrew from the WGC Bridgstone Invitational last night. Picture: PA
Tiger Woods withdrew from the WGC Bridgstone Invitational last night. Picture: PA

Have a gaze down the list of fare on offer and you can just about hear it shrieking, groaning and pleading for mercy as your greedy, boggled eyes feverishly survey the list of slop that you can throw down your thrapple with salivating, belching gusto. The steak gets seared, the fish gets battered, the pork gets pulled and the poor old chicken gets smothered. There are clumps of meat being routinely skewered while the whitebait has been devilled. It's no wonder you get angry prawns amid these agonising scenes of remorseless culinary cruciation. It's like giving your order to a hooded waiter in a medieval torture chamber.

We can only wonder what kind of food a hirpling Tiger Woods is comforting himself with today. Cooked goose perhaps? For the cynics, it's time to stick a fork in him; he's done. Watching the ailing, multiple major winner being carted away from Firestone on Sunday was a sorry sight as his fragile back went into painful spasms and forced his premature withdrawal from the event. The words 'we told you so' were probably being trotted out in wild abandon by those who seemed to have assumed the role of chiropractors as Woods limped away from tournament golf just three events into his much-lauded comeback. You can't expect to roar back just three months after back surgery can you? Woods clearly thought he could and while we do not know the full extent of the latest damaging setback - no doubt it will be clarified after these haverings have been committed to print - it certainly doesn't look encouraging.

When he appeared for his first major outing of the year in the Open at Hoylake over a fortnight ago, Woods was relentlessly probed on his health, his recovery and the level of work he could do on his game. He responded with details of a considered, cautious easing back into the scene. This same caution was not applied to his aspirations though. "First," he said sternly when asked that week what an acceptable finish in the Open would be, despite all the toil and trouble. Fanciful?

Of course it was and it was almost as laughable as the PGA Tour's shrouded policy on drug-taking. But this was Woods talking, a winner of 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour titles. There can be no excuses in the mind of this golfing machine who is programmed only to win. Accepting his back injury - the kind of ailment that all golfers fear - and sitting out the entire 2014 campaign was probably never an option. The evolution of golf into a sport of flat-bellied, rigidly-toned athleticism has happened during the Woods era and no one pumped more iron or pounded more treadmills than the Tiger. His were rigorous training regimes that would have made a Marine double over and wheeze in forlorn resignation. It was this drive and power that took him to the giddy heights but this same desire to push himself to the limits and beyond has come at a hefty price.

Call it doggedness or just plain arrogance, Woods' ambitious targets upon his return were admirable yet highly unrealistic. When he opened with a three-under 69 at Hoylake, he had gushing observers cooing that maybe, just maybe this 'superman' would prove the doubters wrong. Over the next three rounds, of course, it all petered out as he slithered down the order.

Come the WGC Bridgestone last week, the failings and waywardness were there for all to see. He missed 28 of 48 fairways and some of them were by the kind of damaging distances usually reserved for the Saturday medal at Hollandbush. If Woods' hopes of a Ryder Cup call-up -a dicey prospect given his lack of form and competitive sharpness - were already hanging on a shoogly peg then that particular peg must have clattered on to the floor now.

As Tiger licked his wounds, the golfing world was left licking its lips at another Rory McIlroy masterclass. Victory in the Open was swiftly followed by a WGC title. What chance a triumphant triple whammy in this week's PGA Championship?

The great Bobby Jones once said that "no one will ever golf under his thumb" but, in this hellishly difficult game where perfection remains teasingly out of reach, McIlroy has been inching towards something resembling that over these past couple of weeks.

In his pomp, Woods could generate the aura that he was simply unbeatable when he brought his best game to the table. When everything is in sync, like it has been recently, McIlroy, at just 25, continues to develop that similar air of invincibility. "I grew up watching Tiger dominate in this tournament and dominate pretty much everywhere else he played," he said. "I dreamed of one day trying to do something like that."

McIlroy is living the dream. For Woods, the nightmare goes on.

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