SAN DIEGO - Tiger's work just got harder.
His road back just got longer, his climb steeper.
That's because the game got even younger Sunday with the ultra-talented 22-year-old Jon Rahm winning at Torrey Pines, the playground Woods once owned.
That's one more young stud in Tiger's way, one more formidable new challenger fueling up on confidence going to the Masters. That's one more emerging star sucking the precious oxygen required in the climb to the game's four mountaintops, the major championships Woods seeks to win again.
If you aren't moving forward in today's changing game, you're moving backwards. In other words, Tiger got a little older Sunday, just like he got a little older when Justin Thomas won back to back in Hawaii and when Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson won majors to join Rory McIlroy as obstacles in his way.
Woods, 41, does need time to work his way back, but time favors all these young guys. Tiger said he took some nice steps in December at the Hero World Challenge and this week in his missed cut at Torrey. And maybe he did, but he just got lapped by another young guy this weekend.
Tiger is in a tough spot. He needs more reps to rebuild skill and confidence. It's possible he makes a big breakthrough in Dubai this week, but there is a reckoning coming sooner than his loyal fans would like. At some point, he will have to square off against these young guys with a trophy on the line. The sooner the better, because the Masters is just 10 weeks away and there are a bunch more of these young guys looking to get in his way at Augusta. We saw it with Patrick Rodgers, Ollie Shniederjans and Cheng Tsung Pan getting in the mix at Torrey.
Yes, Tiger needs time, but time is becoming a more formidable opponent with the emergence of every young stud fueling up on confidence to get in his way.