Pieces continue to fall around Tiger

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dynasties eventually crumble.

The Romans left some spectacular ruins, but ruins nonetheless. Ottomans are relegated to the furniture gallery. The Mings, the Greeks, the Mayans ... the Celtics, the Yankees, the Fighting Irish.

The framework crumbles. Key personnel depart. Success gets taken for granted. It happens in history, it happens in business, it happens in sports.

It happens to Tiger Woods.

With the departure of caddie Steve Williams, another piece fell off the infrastructure that helped build a dynasty unseen in golf. "I think it's time for a change," Woods said Wednesday in making the split public.

Williams later offered his own statement, saying Woods dismissed him during a meeting at the AT&T National three weeks ago. It ended a 12-year run in that featured 13 of Woods' 14 major championships.

Widen the focus, and there isn't much left now from the structure that had the Tiger Woods machine atop the golf world for the better part of a decade. When he won the 2009 Australian Masters, it capped a year that brought $10.9 million on the course and exponentially more away from it.

Then the SUV got wrecked. Twenty months later, little looks the same.

The marriage obviously couldn't survive. He's divorced now, with all the complexities involved in shared parenting for their two kids. According to reports, ex-wife Elin and the children are vacationing in her native Sweden now.

Agent Mark Steinberg remains, albeit with a different affiliation. IMG chose not to keep him around, and Woods opted to walk with him. They're now with Excel Sports Management, trying to build a golf division around his tarnished name.

Endorsements hit a dry spell, losing Gillette, Accenture, Gatorade and Tag Heuer in the scandal. Nike's still around, but reportedly whacked him with a two-year financial penalty for his indiscretions.

Swing coach Hank Haney was one of the first to depart, ending the relationship himself 14 months ago. Sean Foley brings new ideas, but that highly debated swing makeover is stalled while Woods' knee recovers. Whenever Woods is ready to tee it up again, he'll have to find a replacement for Williams.

Even the putter that Woods used to win 13 majors and $100 million in winnings is on the sideline. He's still seeking that first win with the Nike replacement. Since belatedly giving up the No.1 spot last October, his world ranking is down to 20th.

"Everything changes," ESPN analyst Curtis Strange said before the British Open. "So he's dealing with all of that right now. It all depends on how he reacts to all of this is how well he comes back and plays. Then you throw in the injury. We just don't know; we really don't know."

It's fair to suggest there are a few things Woods isn't all that sure of himself. Letting Williams go doesn't make sense on the surface, considering they'd worked but nine holes together since the Masters.

One thing's certain, though: The surroundings sure look a lot different than they once did.

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