TIGER CAN’T FIND HIS GAME

WOODS MISSES U.S. OPEN CUT AF­TER SHOOT­ING 7-OVER 77 IN SEC­OND ROUND AT WINGED FOOT

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY TIM DAHLBERG AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tiger Woods has made enough dou­ble bo­geys in his ca­reer to un­der­stand any­thing in golf is pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially in the U.S. Open.

But two on the same hole with a pair of fluffed chips in con­sec­u­tive rounds? That’s a stat that won’t make the cut when it comes time to re­view Woods’ spec­tac­u­lar ca­reer.

Woods didn’t make the cut Fri­day, ei­ther, which was sur­pris­ing only to his most syco­phan­tic fans. His game was spotty com­ing in, and if he had to play Winged Foot ev­ery week of his pro ca­reer, he still might be look­ing for his first vic­tory.

He missed fair­ways and putts. He likely missed the thou­sands of fans who would have cheered his ev­ery move and maybe even have got­ten him mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion, had they been al­lowed to at­tend.

About the only thing he didn’t miss was the pri­vate jet that was his ticket away from the night­mare that, for him, is Winged Foot.

Woods has played the course eight times in three ma­jor cham­pi­onships, miss­ing the cut twice and shoot­ing a com­bined 29 over par. On Fri­day he strug­gled to break 80, which is pretty much the mark where things start to get em­bar­rass­ing.

Not that Woods was alone with his 7-over 77. Rory McIl­roy shot a 6-over 76 af­ter open­ing with a 3-un­der 67, and Jor­dan Spi­eth made a mess of ev­ery­thing with an 11-over 81 in the sec­ond round that sent him pack­ing.

Winged Foot is so exacting with gnarly rough and treach­er­ous greens that only six play­ers — led by Pa­trick Reed at 4-un­der 136 — were be­low par half­way through. If his­tory is any in­di­ca­tion, the U.S. Golf As­so­ci­a­tion will tighten the screws even more on the week­end, and who­ever can find a way to be at even par at the end will end up hoist­ing the tro­phy.

Still, Woods has played U.S. Opens his en­tire ca­reer. He has beaten tough cour­ses down, win­ning three times, in­clud­ing on one leg at Tor­rey Pines in 2008.

But he never gave him­self a chance at Winged Foot.

‘‘On this golf course, it’s im­per­a­tive that you hit fair­ways, and I did not do that,’’ Woods said.

At the age of 44, Woods is cer­tainly still ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a ton of birdies. And his Masters vic­tory last year un­doubt­edly was one for the ages.

Put him on a tough course he doesn’t know as well as Au­gusta Na­tional, though, and things seem to get off-track quickly. Not only was he lapped by much of the field this week, but play­ing part­ner Justin Thomas beat him by 12 strokes.

‘‘It’s frus­trat­ing that I’m not go­ing to be here for the week­end and be able to com­pete for this great cham­pi­onship,’’ Woods said. ‘‘It feels like the way the golf course is chang­ing, is turn­ing, that any­body who makes the cut has the op­por­tu­nity to win this cham­pi­onship. I didn’t get my­self that op­por­tu­nity.’’

About the only pos­i­tive Woods can take out of it is that, un­like Winged Foot, there is very lit­tle rough at Au­gusta Na­tional, where he will de­fend his Masters ti­tle in Novem­ber.

Still, with each bad out­ing, it starts look­ing more and more like that Masters vic­tory might have been the cap on his ca­reer rather than the be­gin­ning of a be­lated run at the ma­jors record held by Jack Nick­laus.

Con­sider this stat for con­text: In the first 65 ma­jors of his pro ca­reer, Woods missed three cuts. Now he has missed the cut in eight of his last 15 ma­jors.

A week­end with­out Woods won’t make any­one happy. No one boosts rat­ings like he does, and no one is more in­ter­est­ing to watch, even when he’s play­ing poorly.

Maybe the worst part about Thurs­day and Fri­day at Winged Foot was that he didn’t even give him­self a chance. ✶

GRE­GORY SHAMUS/GETTY IM­AGES

Tiger Woods missed the cut for the eighth time in his last 15 ma­jors Fri­day.

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