The world's No. 1 golfer - the same hacker who has held that position since Clinton was lighting up cigars in the Oval Office - is looking more and more each week like a Tiger lost in the Woods.
Which is, coincidentally, the same place where most of his tee shots have been ending up during his ongoing title drought in stroke play competitions.
Woods currently ranks 175th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy, hitting the fairway about as often as Oprah declines to look at the dessert menu.
His struggles off the tee - coupled with a balky putter - have kept the swooshed one from topping a stroke-play leaderboard since last October's WGC Championships.
Were it not for the intimidation factor of playing with golf's biggest name - an advantage utilized by Woods in capturing the WGC Match Play Championship in February - Tiger could well be winless on tour this year.
And don't even mention his S-L-U-M-P in the majors.
But somehow, some way, Woods continues to remain ahead of hard-charging Ernie Els and Vijay Singh - a pair of guys who have actually lifted a major trophy in at least one of their last 10 efforts - in the world rankings for the 263rd consecutive week.
If Woods had taken one more stroke on Sunday at the NEC Invitational, Singh would have become the new No. 1 this weekend.
"I wish I would have won the tournament," Woods said after his final round 69. "The No. 1 ranking always takes care of itself with wins ; I was trying to win a tournament this weekend, and I just wasn't able to do it."
Wishing to win tournaments? What happened to the guy who once famously said that second place sucks?
All the scratching and clawing to stay on top befits a Tiger, but maybe a demotion will snap Woods out of the funk that has been haunting him since a third round 81 at the 2002 British Open ruined his bid for the Grand Slam.
Lord knows he needs something to wake him up, and being stripped of his crown has worked wonders for Woods once before.
David Duval's rise to the top of the golf world in 1999, which was followed just as quickly by his precipitous fall, lit the proverbial match under Woods and helped produce arguably the greatest stretch of golf ever played.
After a Tiger Slam and the first two legs of the '02 major schedule were put to bed, golf fans worldwide were ready to close the book on the "Greatest Ever" argument.
Now the only thing Woods can regularly expect to win is a heads-up bank account comparison with Beacon Sports Editor Matt Giles.
Maybe the rest of the tour has finally caught up with Woods. Perhaps it is finally time to lower the impossibly high expectations placed on the former Stanford Cardinal.
Or, maybe, the eye of the Tiger has dimmed a bit thanks to the, um, quality time spent with fiancŽe Elin Nordegren.
Not that I can blame him for wanting to be with his somewhat attractive Swedish live-in nanny, but there seems to be more than just a desire for family time driving Woods these days.
"I've got to shoot commercials this week," he told Golf World. "So I've got some work to do."
He's absolutely right, but the work he needs to focus on if he wants to stop delivering his standard "I'm close" press conferences is on the range, not in a studio.
Until then, the Tiger will remain in his cage.
- Austin Ward is a junior in journalism and can be reached at email@example.com.
Tiger's struggles confound fans; top ranking in doubt
Published: Thu Aug 26, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:18 p.m.