April 30, 2010
For only the sixth time in the history of the PGA Tour, the following words will be typed: Tiger Woods missed the cut on Friday.
The only difference at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship is there was never a chance of Woods making the cut, as he hacked, slashed and shanked his way to a 79, his highest round in a tournament on United States soil.
How bad did it get for Tiger in the second round? Well, along with the above stat, his inward 43, which included three bogeys to start and consecutive double-bogeys on 14 and 15, matched his worst nine-hole score as a PGA Tour golfer.
After the round, Tiger offered up something to The Golf Channel that might surprise you when you look at his scorecard.
"I didn't play that poorly on the front nine, but my short game was terrible ... it is what it is, but whatever it was, it wasn't good enough."
The look on Tiger's face as he offered up those words was something you don't see a lot from the world's number one when he speaks of his golf game. He looked beat down, similar to his eyes when he chatted to the media for the first time after all the news came out about his infidelities.
Tiger hit just 14 percent of his fairways Friday and 61 percent of his greens in regulation, and he needed 34 putts. All three of the big statistics (driving accuracy, GIR and putting) were 114th or worse in the field, with his driving accuracy ranking last at Quail Hollow. Ouch.
Prior to Friday, Woods had only missed five cuts in 241 starts in his career. Two of those were majors, the 2006 U.S. Open immediately after the death of his father and the 2009 British Open. Woods holds one of the most remarkable records in all of sports: the all-time record for most consecutive cuts made. From 1998 to 2005, he made 142 straight cuts, obliterating Byron Nelson's record of 113. (For comparison, almost all other golfers miss at least one or two cuts over the course of a single season.)
On Thursday I wrote that we need not worry after an opening 74 from Woods, but after this abysmal 79, it seems like the panic button should be pushed. His swing is atrocious right now, and next week the tour heads to an event where you can't miss shots if you plan on making the weekend. The Players is also an event that Tiger has struggled at of late.
But, as we have always learned from Tiger Woods, the time you start to count him out is the time he pounces back on the scene. In 2002, when Tiger shot a shuddering 81 at the British Open in the third round, it was a shock to everyone. What did he do after that? Won his next event, and then another three weeks later.
It's tempting to blame Woods' awful performance on his recent troubles, and it's also probably correct. Woods always gets amped up for the majors, and so his fourth-place finish at Augusta wasn't a surprise. But with nothing to prove, no burning reason to challenge himself, Tiger had to rely on his skills rather than his mindset to carry him through, and his skills are rusty indeed.
Still, it's a reminder that golf is bigger than everyone. Tiger owned the game for many years, but it now seems golf's reminding him who's really in charge.
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