The low point came at the 2011 PGA Championship, where Tiger Woods shot rounds of 77-73 to miss the cut by a whopping 6 strokes. He was 10 over par for two days and lost. He clearly didn't know where the ball was going, and, in his second tournament back after a summer lost to injury, it was obvious he had a long way to go.
Woods had been working with instructor Sean Foley for a year, but their time together was cut short by Woods' knee and Achilles injuries suffered at the Masters. Not only was Woods trying to learn a new swing but he didn't have the physical ability to work on it. That was obvious at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Because he missed the cut, Woods had failed to earn enough points to be eligible for the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoff series. That meant at least another month on golf's sideline, a time when he still managed to secure a captain's pick from Fred Couples for the U.S. Presidents Cup team in Australia. That only added to the focus on his game.
So how did he get from there to here? How did Woods go from the depths of mediocrity to winning again Sunday on the PGA Tour at the Arnold Palmer Invitational -- his first victory in 30 official worldwide starts dating to 2009?
Woods likes to say that his work with Foley is a "process.'' Here is how it evolved through to his 72nd PGA Tour title.
Frys.com Open, Oct. 6-9, 2011, 73-68-68-68 (T-30)
Working with new caddie Joe LaCava for the first time, Woods got off to a slow start and was never in contention. The biggest news of the week came on the final day when a spectator rushed toward a green as Woods putted and made a lame attempt to throw a hot dog at him. It was strangeness at its best.
This was the first time Woods had played in a Fall Series event since such tournaments began in 2007, and, although there were a few highlights, a tie for 30th was hardly anything to get excited about. He finished 10 strokes back of playoff participants Bryce Molder and Briny Baird -- both of whom sought their first PGA Tour victory.
"I got better every day,'' Woods said. "Unfortunately, a couple of times where I kind of didn't get the momentum going when I had a couple of chances to make putts or I hit a bad shot. I haven't played much. That comes with competitive flow, understanding the situations and feels, and game time is a little bit different. I really haven't played a whole lot since the Masters.''
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.