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Tiger Woods and Father Time

By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer

Tiger Woods is a different player in 2014. (USATSI)
Tiger Woods is a different player in 2014. (USATSI)

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Father Time, undefeated.

These are the words the immortal philosopher Sir Charles Barkley likes to utter every time an NBA star flails about at the end of his career because he can't do the things that once made him great.

Father Time sucks.

Yet it is the most obvious explanation for why Tiger Woods hasn't won a major championship since 2008. You can talk swing changes and knee injuries and fire hydrants but the common thread throughout those things is the flipping of the calendar.

And while Tiger Woods isn't exactly what I would call "flailing around" he's still a shadow of what Tiger Woods used to be. He acknowledged that at the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year.

"I know that I don't have 20 years in my prime," said Woods. "I don't see being 58 and being in my prime. Most guys don't jump from the foul line at age 58, so it's a little different but the outlook is still the same."

What's different?

"So you do it a different way. You evolve as you age and I think I've done that so far."

Evolve, another term for "I don't have what I used to have in the tank."

Hear me out here. I don't think Tiger Woods is toast, last year proved that he's not. But we need to start thinking of him as a rich man's Hunter Mahan (which is still really, really good) instead of the GOAT (greateast of all time) in his prime.

The most sobering indication of all of this comes from a different sport, two different sports to be exact. Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter, two athletes who have shared Planet Global Icon with Tiger for most of his career, have been rendered less-than-stars in their respective sports.

Kobe because of injuries and Jeter because of his recently-announced retirement.

So Tiger will go it alone now.

There was a really intriguing study done on this golf analytics website recently that looked at how age affects professional golfers. The obvious theory is that the older you get the worse you play but look at how drastic the decline is:

Woods is 38 and on the precipice of that steep decline. And even if you argue that it won't affect him in the same way (which I would agree with) it will still affect him to some degree.

We'll begin to see how much starting this week at the Honda Classic.

After Woods finished his second tournament of the season over in Dubai, he talked with ESPN about how it took him a while to get his stuff back.

"It took three rounds in San Diego and three rounds in Dubai before finally it clicked in," said Woods. "My golf feels finally came back. Whatever shot I saw, I hit. Whatever number was given to me by Joey [caddie Joe LaCava], I hit. I had a wonderful feel for it."

That's telling -- not because Woods isn't going to have a really good 18th season (I actually think he is) but because Old Tiger never had anything to get back.

He just always had it.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

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