TIGER CAN’T FIND HIS GAME
WOODS MISSES U.S. OPEN CUT AFTER SHOOTING 7-OVER 77 IN SECOND ROUND AT WINGED FOOT
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. ✶
Tiger Woods missed the cut for the eighth time in his last 15 majors Friday.