(Reuters) - Time is fast running out for Tiger Woods to salvage what he describes as a "frustrating" PGA Tour season after three missed cuts, a withdrawal and just one top-25 finish in eight starts.
The former world number has plummeted to a mind-boggling 266th in the rankings, making him ineligible for next week's elite WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio where he has triumphed a record eight times.
Woods attributes his woes to a "perfect storm" of trying to work through the latest swing change of his career while still recovering from back surgery, but he said on Tuesday things were "starting to come together".
"I didn't think that it would take this long because I thought I would have my short game earlier," Woods told reporters at Robert Trent Jones GC in Gainesville, Virginia where he is hosting this week's Quicken Loans National.
"You can cover up a lot of different things when you're chipping and putting well. I didn't have it at the beginning of the year ... so that process of scoring has taken a lot longer because of that. But things are starting to come together."
Back in PGA Tour action for the first time since he missed the cut at the British Open, Woods knows his 2015 campaign could end earlier than usual since his poor form has ruled him out of the four season-ending FedExCup playoff events.
His only hope of qualifying for the Bridgestone Invitational hinges on a victory on Sunday at the Quicken Loans National, otherwise his last scheduled tournament for the season will be the Aug. 13-16 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
"It's frustrating not being able to win golf tournaments, not really being there in contention very often ... but I know how close it feels and I know I just need a couple of shots here and there and it turns the tide," said Woods.
"People don't really realize how close it is between a person who is winning (a tournament) and a person missing the cut."
Woods shot his worst round as a professional, an 85 at the Memorial tournament last month, and he has since missed the cut at both the U.S. Open and British Open -- the first time in his career he has done so at consecutive major championships.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)