The sport of golf needs healthy Tiger Woods for branding purposes

Back in 1996, the film Independence Day, starring Will Smith, was the highest grossing film of the year. “Macarena,” by Los Del Rio, was the world’s most popular and annoying song of 1996.

Why are those fun facts important? Tiger Woods, 39, turned pro back in 1996. That was the last time Woods ranked outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. That was nearly two decades ago.

Nineteen years later, Woods finds himself at one of his lowest points in his playing career as he falls from 96 to 104, dropping out of the top 100 for the first time since Sept. 28, 1996.

And while Woods has fallen out of the top 100, the production of Independence Day 2 is currently in the works and the “Macarena” is still either clearing the dance floor or filling it up.

But to think, Woods is still golf’s most prominent face even as he sits outside the top 100. There are 103 better golfers than Tiger Woods, and you mean to tell me the 104th best golfer is making more headlines than Rory Mcllory, the world’s number one golfer? The Masters is just six days away and Tiger Woods is the leading story? We’re not even for sure he’s going to play. The PGA Tour has become a joke, as has Tiger Woods.

The sport of golf looks to Woods for all of the above. Golf is nothing with or without Woods, if you ask me. Allow me to correct myself. Golf is tremendously more interesting when Woods is competing, only because Woods is making a complete mockery of the fans who decide to tune in and watch his 18 holes of preposterous golfing. He has a major build-up heading into every tournament just so we can witness a major breakdown. Before we make this guy front-page news, let’s see Woods finish 18 holes, a goal that seems very unrealistic given his array of injuries, weakened state of mind and swing problems.

I love golf. Tiger Woods is and was the only reason golf held any relevance to me growing up. I’ve grown to love the game since, and that’s without the dominance of Woods. I’ve seen the emergence and shades of dominance from the likes of Mcllory. Bubba Watson, a two-time and defending Masters champion, is making a run for the top spot. Jordan Spieth is also a young, emerging American golfer ranked No. 4 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking.

Don’t shoot the messenger, but I don’t think those three guys can carry the sport of golf like vintage Woods did. We may never again see the complete and utter dominance Woods once put on display in 72 holes of golf tournament after tournament.

I hope you guys realize how distressing this is to me.

Out of love for golf, I’ll tune in to watch the Masters. Boy, how boring that’ll be without Woods. Woods has not played since a sore back forced him to withdraw mid-round from the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in February. Woods then announced he would take an open-ended break from competition to get his game in shape. Woods is eying a return at the Masters next week. How captivating and enormous it will be for golf to have its most prominent face at the Masters.

For his sake, I’d rather not see Woods compete, though. The Masters shouldn’t be his first tournament back, let alone the tournament he expects to come in and win. All my money is on the field.