As it turned out, one of the only good breaks Tiger Woods got at the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills came at the expense of a course spotter. Woods bounced a tee shot on his ninth hole of Friday off the spotter’s ankle, a kick that kept the ball out of the deep rough, and managed to only bogey the hole. At this particular tournament, that counts as a small victory.
For Tiger Woods this weekend, there were hardly any other kinds.
Woods started ugly and didn’t improve
Woods finished the U.S. Open at +10, walking to the clubhouse four strokes off the then-current cut line of +6. While the cut line shifted in the afternoon, it wasn’t enough for Woods to make it to the weekend. Woods kept the door open the tiniest crack with a birdie-birdie finish, and Fox clearly would love even a hobbled Woods to play the weekend, but we’ll need to wait all of Friday to see if that’s a possibility.
The final results, and we warn those with small children that they may wish to leave the room: two rounds, 36 holes, five birdies, six bogeys, three double-bogeys, and one triple-bogey. Woods finished 78-72, and only those two closing birdies kept this from being a total apocalypse.
Woods finished the round 14 strokes off the lead of playing partner Dustin Johnson, and all the fanciful dreams of Woods returning to the game and resuming his march toward Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors are starting to fade into the ether.
The numbers aren’t in Woods’ favor
The numbers are starting to pile up, and they’re not promising. Woods hasn’t made the cut in a non-Masters major since the 2014 Open Championship. He hasn’t made the cut at the U.S. Open since 2013. He hasn’t finished in the top 5 of a major since the 2013 Masters, and he hasn’t made the top 5 of a U.S. Open since 2010. He hasn’t won a major of any kind since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods is running out of opportunities to add to his 14 majors, and not just because the still-undefeated Father Time is creeping up. Woods didn’t have to look any farther than his own pairing to see golf’s present and future. While Johnson was hammering drives into different time zones and rolling aircraft carrier-length putts, Justin Thomas was staying steady after an opening-round 74 to put himself in position to play the weekend.
Meanwhile, Woods struggled in every phase of his game, drifting drives and greasing putts. He’s still playing and he’s apparently not injured, which are both good for the game. But he’s nowhere close to competitive on a major level, and it’s fine to wonder if he ever will be again.
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