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Say this for Tiger Woods: The guy knows how to craft an excuse.
On a day at the AT&T National when the Congressional Golf Club was playing like the U.S. Open-level venue it should have last year, Woods carded a 1-over 72. Good news: He's just five strokes off leader Bo Van Pelt. Bad news: So are a bunch of other guys. Woods is currently T30. He had some fine drives and one beautiful putt, but some head-scratching decisions both off the tee and on the approach left him further back than he ought to be in a less-than-full-strength field.
After the round, Woods put his typical "Yeah, it wasn't great, but I knew it wasn't going to be great, so that makes it pretty good" spin on his round, focusing especially on the demanding setup and the ultra-fast greens. "We've played three U.S. Opens so far this year," he said, perhaps overselling the case just a tad. "We had Bay Hill, obviously Olympic and now one here. A couple shots today, ball is bouncing as high as it flies."
Woods also delivered one of the great all-time excuses in golf history, one that I plan to use pretty much every time I do anything wrong the rest of my life. Speaking of his less-than-stellar bunker play, he noted, "There's so much sand in these bunkers. There's just a lot of sand in them. My 60 [degree wedge] is not built for this much sand ... so I have to make an adjustment and hit the ball a little bit closer."
Now, as absurd as it seems to complain about sand being in a sand trap — much like the fact that the ocean is, indeed, wet — there's a bit more (and less) to the story. The truth is, of course, that there are different kinds of sand at different courses, much like there are different kinds of sand at different beaches. But, still: This is one of Tiger's own events, held in connection with his foundation. (Let's give them a little love: go there.) You'd think he'd have an idea of what the sand is like at a course like this. Plus, he's Tiger freaking Woods. Sand shouldn't be that much of an obstacle to him.
Anyway, it was a silly offhanded comment, and chances are, by bringing attention to it this will only get him to lock down even more. (Sorry, fellow media.) But at this point, we're all looking to a time when he doesn't have to hoist excuses ... only trophies.