2014 started out in a familiar place for Tiger Woods: Torrey Pines. He had won there eight times as a pro, but would not win for a ninth time this year. In fact, he even missed the cut, carding a 79 on Saturday to miss the 54-hole cut in the Farmers Insurance Open. He was puzzled. We were puzzled. It was only the beginning.
2 of 17Getty Images/ Sam Greenwood
Woods’ early season form was wildly inconsistent. On Saturday at the Honda Classic, he shot up the leaderboard into the top 10 with a 65, easily his best round of the season to that point.
3 of 17Getty Images/ Sam Greenwood
It wouldn’t last long, though. Woods couldn’t even finish his Sunday round, citing back spasms as he withdrew from the event. The spasms began during this pre-round warm-up and sent him from the course with just five holes remaining.
4 of 17SI/ Fred Vuich
But Tiger would make plenty believers again at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, when his Saturday 66 brought him into a tie for fourth place. That feeling wouldn’t last long, as Woods’ inconsistency continued with a 78 on Sunday, dropping him down to a tie for 25. It would be his highest finish of the season.
5 of 17Associated Press/ Susan Walsh
Less than a month later, Woods made a statement that he had surgery to relieve a pinched nerve in his back. On the first day of April, there was no fooling around with the report. It meant one thing: no Masters tournament for Tiger. He set his sights on coming back later in the summer.
6 of 17Associated Press/ Nick Wass
We wouldn’t see Woods for a pair of months (which were dominated by Martin Kaymer), but he returned all smiles at the Quicken Loans National.
7 of 17Associated Press/ Patrick Semansky
As per usual with his 2014 season, those smiles didn’t last long. Woods missed the 36-hole cut at Quicken Loans for just the 10th time in his professional career. Abnormally, Woods was in good spirits following the event, noting he was happy with how his body performed throughout the two rounds.
8 of 17Getty Images/ Gregory Shamus
The next month would see Tiger finish 69th at the British Open. He finished, though, which is more than he could say following the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in late July, where this bunker shot tweaked Woods’ back once again. He had to pull out of a Sunday round for the second time in 2014.
9 of 17Getty Images/ David Cannon
That Sunday withdrawal spawned a flurry of speculation just days before the start of the PGA Championship. All kinds of eyes were fixated on the empty parking spot reserved for Woods at Valhalla. It remained empty until Wednesday afternoon when Tiger arrived for the first time.
10 of 17SI/ Fred Vuich
Fans sure took notice, as they followed Woods in throngs during his practice round. Rest assured, the group wasn’t there to watch Harris English play with Steve Stricker. It was about all the excitement that Woods could conjure up, however, missing the cut with two rounds of 74.
11 of 17SI/ Thomas Lovelock
Does this photo seem like it’s missing someone? Woods felt it was right—following a dismal competitive season—that he would take his name out of consideration for the 2014 Ryder Cup. It made Tom Watson’s captain’s picks slightly easier, though the American squad would eventually lose handily to the Europeans in September. It would prompt a Team USA “task force” to form in preparation for future Ryder Cups. To no one’s surprise, Woods was asked to join.
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Just one week after the PGA Championship, though, Woods was smiling again, this time on set with Jimmy Fallon for the Tonight Show. The pair was joined by Rory McIlroy, the newly crowned PGA Champion.
13 of 17Getty Images/ Scott Heppell
Another week went by and Woods was in the headlines again, choosing to part ways with swing coach Sean Foley. The two worked together for four-and-a-half years, and though Woods had a very successful 2013 season, he never won a major with Foley guiding his swing.
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15 of 17Getty/ Scott Halleran
Just four days later, Woods hired Chris Como as a swing “consultant.” Como, from Plano, Texas, was lauded for receiving a degree in biomechanics and had worked with Aaron Baddeley, Trevor Immelman and Jamie Lovemark in the past.
16 of 17Getty Images/ Scott Halleran
The Como effects were heavily analyzed but quickly forgotten as Woods struggled in the Hero World Challenge. He dealt with flu symptoms, vomiting on the course, but struggled even more with his short game, flubbing numerous chips short of the green.
17 of 17Associated Press/ Willie Allen Jr.
Woods placed last at the event, and his 2014—which began with Woods ranked No. 1 and ended with him ranked No. 29—officially came to a close.
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