CHARLOTTE, N.C. – So much for Tiger Woods wanting the attention to return to his golf.
In a shocking meltdown Friday at the Quail Hollow Championship, Woods matched the worst nine-hole score of his PGA Tour career and wound up with a 7-over 79 to miss a cut for only the sixth time in his 14-year career.
He had three-putt bogeys on consecutive holes. He hit a flop shot that ran over the green and into the water. And he bottomed out on the 15th green with a four-putt double bogey from just over 30 feet.
“It is what it is,” Woods said when asked if rust or mechanics were the culprit. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t good enough.”
Not even close.
Making the performance even more surprising is that Woods was coming off a tie for fourth at the Masters three weeks ago, a remarkable performance considering it was his first competition since a five-month break after being caught cheating on his wife.
This was a big step backward.
The 79 was his second-worst score as a pro behind an 81 that Woods shot in the wind-blown third round of the 2002 British Open at Muirfield when he was going for the Grand Slam. His 43 on the back tied his worst nine-hole score on tour; he also shot 43 at the Bay Hill Invitational three years ago, and the 1996 Tour Championship.
“He’s obviously got things in his mind other than what’s going between the ropes right now,” said British Open champion Stewart Cink, who played with Woods. “You’ve got to learn how to balance what’s going on in your life with your golf. And if you’re not in a great place mentally, then it sometimes shows up out there.”
Woods finished at 9-over 153, the highest 36-hole total of his career.
Billy Mayfair birdied his final hole for a 4-under 68 and was the 36-hole leader at 8-under 136. He had a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, who played in Woods’ group. J.P. Hayes matched the Quail Hollow record with a 64 that put him in the group at 6-under 138 along with Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Paul Goydos.
This was Woods’ first time playing at a regular PGA Tour event with public ticket sales, and the crowd was gracious as ever with a few exceptions. Two fans, including a woman, held thumbs-down as Woods walked off the 15th green. Police also escorted away a fan who apparently heckled Woods as he left the 17th green. A friend of the fan, who declined to give his name, said the fan only said, “No red shirt for you on Sunday.”
Otherwise, it was clear over the last two days the fans were more interested in Woods as a golfer than anything to do with his personal life. He just didn’t give them much to cheer. And he won’t be around for the weekend.
“You have to let it go,” Woods said. “It’s like baseball – you go 0-for-4 two days in a row like I did, you’ve got a whole new tournament next week, which is great.”
Woods is to compete next week at The Players Championship. He won at Sawgrass in 2001, but he also has finished out of the top 20 more often there than at any other tournament.
It was the first time Woods missed a cut since the British Open last summer at Turnberry, and the first time at a regular PGA Tour event since the Disney Classic at the end of the 2005 season.
“Give this guy a chance, though. He’ll bounce back,” Mayfair said. “We all know that. Everyone on tour knows that. By him missing a few cuts here and there, it’s just going to make him come back even stronger. I don’t think anyone out here is worried about Tiger, and I’m sure Tiger is not worried about it right now, either.”
One shot over the projected cut going to the back nine, Woods bogeyed the next three holes before it really turned ugly. He hit driver on the 329-yard 14th hole well to the right on a hill, leaving him a downhill shot to a green sloping toward the water. His flop shot came out too hot, bounded across the green and went into the water for a double bogey.
He didn’t take much time over shots after that, appearing to have packed in it.
“I didn’t have much,” Woods said. “At that point in time, it was pretty much out of reach, and I was just trying to stay out of Angel’s way. He’s the one who’s leading the golf tournament.”
Even so, Woods’ poor play was exacerbated by the four-putt on the 15th. He ran his 30-foot birdie attempt about 3 1/2 feet by the hole, caught the lip with his par putt, then rapped a 30-inch putt that spun around the cup.
“I’ve seen him struggle like that off the tee,” said Cink, who also missed the cut. “But he’s usually the magician that gets the ball up and down from everywhere, hits some miraculous shots out of the trees and stuff. But you’ve got to remember, he hasn’t played a lot of golf since about November. It’s hard to just come back and be the magician instantly.”
Of the six times Woods has missed the cut, the 17-shot gap between him and the leader was the largest by three shots.
Woods holds the PGA Tour record for 142 consecutive tournaments making the cut, which ended at the 2005 Byron Nelson Classic. He also missed the cut at the 1997 Canadian Open and the 2006 U.S. Open.
But he never looked as bad as he did Friday at Quail Hollow.
It started on his back nine when a 3-wood narrowly missed clearing the bunker in front of the green. Woods flubbed the bunker shot, chipped too strong and missed the par putt.
“Ten was a pretty big deflator right there, because I hit a 3-wood and missed clearing the bunker by about a foot and ended up making bogey on a hole that I should have made a birdie,” he said. “So that hurt a lot.”
Bogeys on the next two holes were set up by poor tee shots, not unusual the way he was driving the ball. Woods hit only two fairways – none on the back nine, and none since the fourth hole.
Even so, the real problem was his short game and mental mistakes. After opening with a 10-foot birdie to get inside the cut line, it wasn’t long before problems began to surface – not the bogeys, but how he was making them.
Knowing how fast the putt is from above the hole at No. 3, Woods still ran it 8 feet by and three-putted for bogey, the first of consecutive three-putt bogeys. On the par-3 sixth, he had an awkward stance with his ball just outside the bunker. The worst thing he could do was chip too strong, yet that’s what he did, running it 10 feet by the hole and missing a downhill par putt that he barely touched.
On the next hole, he faced a simple chip that he only had to get to a ridge in the green, but chipped it off the other side and had to scramble for par on a hole where most players expect birdie.
Through it all, he made the turn at 2 over for the tournament, easily within range of making the cut.
It all changed so quickly, and before long, Woods was headed home to Florida.
“It does bother me, no doubt,” he said. “But at least I get the weekend to watch and see how it’s done, how real players play golf. And hopefully, I can piece it together for next week and be ready to go.”
Woods misses cut at Quail Hollow
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – So much for Tiger Woods wanting the attention to return to his golf.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18