BETHESDA, Md. – Tiger Woods missed the cut by four shots at the Quicken Loans National and deemed it “encouraging.”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a new world.
Woods followed a first-round 74 with a shaky 75 in the second round at Congressional and will not play the weekend in his first event back after a nearly four-month layoff because of back surgery.
“A lot of positives to take away from these last two days,” Woods said. “I came back four weeks earlier than we thought I could. I had no setbacks. I got my feel for playing tournament golf.”
To be fair, he’s right. The week was a success, even though it’s difficult to view the end result (T-103) as such from a man who has won 14 major championships and 79 PGA Tour victories.
Woods hit many trademark shots during the two days outside the nation’s capital. He swung hard with the driver time and time again, he hit several precise long iron shots into greens, and he wasn’t afraid to attack the pins that he thought he could. He took many massive blows out of thick, gnarly rough. The back never gave him a problem.
“The thing I was worried about most was hitting driver, and I roasted most of them the last two days,” he said. “Hit it really well.”
What Woods did not do well was what most people thought he would do the best. Frankly, his short game was not good. At all.
The statistic that knocks you in the face most about his putrid performance in this area – Woods got up and down three of 16 times. Yes, the 16 times he failed to hit a green in regulation, he made par only three times. Three.
On the par-3 12th hole on Friday, Woods chunked a chip shot 12 feet short. On No. 14 he hit a chip 10 feet past the hole and did not make the par putt. He missed a birdie putt from inside 6 feet on No. 4, three-putted for par on the par-5 sixth hole and missed a 3 footer for par on the 16th hole, among other things.
It’s a surprise that this part of Woods' game was so ragged because it’s the part he said earlier in the week he believed was at its best. Since his surgery on March 31, Woods almost immediately began chipping and putting on his back-yard practice range.
“I was off,” Woods said. “I probably should have spent more time chipping over on the chipping green than I did. But that’s the way it goes.
“All the little things, and speed on putts, all the little things that I know I can fix.”
After a bogey on No. 8, Woods rattled off birdies on nine and 10 to pull within two shots of the cut line. He then made four consecutive bogeys to put weekend play out of reach.
“Swing looks good, he’s not over-swinging,” said Jordan Spieth, Woods’ playing partner for two days. “He’s in rhythm.
“He’s going to be a severe threat at the British (Open), probably a favorite, and after playing these couple rounds, I think he’ll take something from it.”
Woods said he was going to take his children on a vacation, then he’d begin preparations for the British Open in three weeks at Royal Liverpool, a place where Woods won the claret jug in 2006.
“I’m very excited to get there,” he said. “Excited to play that golf course.”