Tiger Woods has never scored worse as a pro than he did on Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Woods shot and 11-over 82 at TPC Scottsdale for his worst-ever round as a professional, worse than the 81 he shot in the third round of the 2002 Open Championship. It was raining on that day, too, at Muirfield, but gale-force winds didn't whip up at TPC Scottsdale.
His second round was like the first but with more lighter fluid. The same things plagued Woods on Friday: cluenessless with the driver and a complete mental block in his short game.
The first four holes weren't good, but a good-enough 1-over-par start. Then he took an unplayable lie after his drive at his fifth hole, the 14th after starting on the back nine, leading to a double-bogey 6. Woods followed with a duck hook into the water at the par-5 15th, the total opposite of where his drive went on Thursday. Triple bogey.
When Woods made a 20-foot putt to save par – par! – at the par-3 16th, the roar from the crowd made it seem like a birdie. It was almost as if they were trying to will him to something better.
Then Woods couldn't get up-and-down in three from 40 yards away at the drivable par-4 17th. Deflated, Woods came up short from the fairway with his approach at the 18th. Bogey, why not. The outgoing 8-over 44 tied his worst-ever score for nine holes as a professional, equaled in the third round of the 2013 Memorial Tournament.
At that point, what was Woods to do? He wasn't going to shoot a back-nine 26 to miraculously make the cut.
"Just keep fighting," Woods said after the round. "Just keep grinding over each and every shot."
He deserves credit for that, taking the turn and not walking directly toward his jet and flying home. He played the back nine, and it was equally ugly, even if the score was six shots better. At the par-3 fourth, Woods skulled a chip shot from back of the green into a bunker in front of it, leading to a double-bogey. Woods birdied the fifth, the hardest hole on the course for the second day in a row, then dropped shots with a bad bunker shot at the sixth and a three-jack at the seventh. Another birdie at No. 8 gave a glimmer of hope that he'd have a chance to avoid a historic low, but a limp effort at the ninth locked up history.
Tiger Woods has played over 1,000 rounds as a professional. He now has two rounds in the 80s.
"We all have days like this," Woods said. "Unfortunately, mine was in a public forum. We take the good with the bad."
Woods again blamed changes in his technique and his lack of trust in them for the debacle. This was mental. This was mentally jarring. Woods isn't sticking around for the Super Bowl on Sunday, instead flying home and practicing before he flies cross-country on Monday for the Farmers Insurance Open.
Woods' peers have repeatedly said on Twitter that the 14-time major winner looks great on the range. It's taking it to the course that's the problem. Perhaps that means Woods needs to play more to work through the mental flubs that are worse than the physical skulls, blades and chunks.
The classic advice from wise investors is to buy low, at rock bottom if you can. But you'd be hard pressed to find someone right now that would buy stock in Woods – that is, except Woods.
"I was player of the year only a year ago," Woods said. "Got to keep things in perspective."
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