'I'm playing so early, I can get home and watch the finish,' he said, referring to the fact that a tournament's leaders tee off last.
Majors used to end with Woods at the closing ceremony, not on his couch. He usually hoisted a trophy, smiled for the cameras and answered questions about his quest to win more major championships than the record 18 belonging to Jack Nicklaus.
Now he's finishing early enough to fly home to Florida and camp out in front of the television while someone else comes up with a winning shot that will be talked about for years.
No one could have imagined that Shaun Micheel, No. 169 in the world ranking and whose best tournaments were the ones Woods didn't play, would win more majors this year.
Ditto for Ben Curtis.
Not many would have ventured that Woods would be shut out of the Grand Slam for the first time since 1998, or that his drought would reach six majors.
'I just haven't gotten it done,' Woods said. 'That's part of playing.'
It's still too early to call it a slump. Woods has won four times this year, and Nicklaus went twice as many majors without winning in his prime.
Still, the results alone are difficult to ignore.
The PGA Championship was his worst major since he turned pro. Woods tied for 39th at 12-over-par 292, a whopping 16 shots behind Micheel. He shot over par all four rounds, only the third time that has happened in a major. He averaged a bogey every four holes.
For the season, Woods was 18 over par in the majors. For the first time in his career, he failed to finish under par in any Grand Slam event.
After closing with a 73 in the final round at Oak Hill, Woods walked down a brick path toward the scoring room and told reporters that the 'suffering is over.'
It wasn't clear if he was talking about Oak Hill or 2003.
'You're going to have a couple months that you're going to play poorly,' said Adam Scott of Australia, who often plays morning practice rounds with Woods.
'When he doesn't play well, he's 18 over par in the majors for one year,' Scott said. 'When other guys don't play well, it's usually 40 or 50 over par.'
Trouble is, Woods isn't compared with anyone but himself. Expectations are higher for him than any other player -- perhaps any other in history.
Still, the PGA Championship revealed plenty of problems.
Putting usually determines whether Woods has a chance to win -- sometimes, it's a question of how much. This time, it only kept bad scores from being worse.
'Every putt I had inside 10 feet, I pretty much buried,' Woods said. 'But most of those were pars. I putted great just to make the cut.'
His biggest issue was getting the ball in play, no matter what driver was in his hands. And Woods rarely hit the ball the right distance.
Woods hasn't seen coach Butch Harmon since early this year when he was getting ready to return to the PGA Tour from knee surgery. If that has become a problem, Woods isn't letting on.
'I know my swing,' he said in the locker room.
He set down a large box of shoes, then demonstrated his swing over and over -- the arms coming down into the shot and matching the turn of his hips. If his hips rotate too quickly, his arms lag behind and he has to compensate.
'I'm just not matching up,' Woods said. 'My arm speed, my body speed ... it's just not quite there.'
It wasn't a problem in 2000, when Woods played the four majors in 53 under par and won three of them. It wasn't a problem the first half of last year, when he won the Masters and U.S. Open to give him seven majors in the last 11 played.
'It's a feeling,' Woods said. 'And once you've found it, you just carry it with you the rest of the trip. Now, it goes in stretches.'
Asked when he last felt this uncomfortable over the ball, Woods smiled.
'This year,' he said. 'The Buick Open (a tie for second). The Western Open, which I won because I made everything. I hit it really good at the British, I just couldn't make a putt on the back nine.'
The PGA Championship behind him, Woods looked ahead to the final three months of the season that include two World Golf Championships, a new $5 million tournament outside Boston that ends on Labor Day, the season-ending Tour Championship.
'You've got so many big events coming up,' he said.
The words rang hollow because none of those tournaments is a major. None will get him closer to Nicklaus' record. Woods is stuck on eight majors.
And he already was bracing for seven months of questions about the majors.
'The guy is still a freak,' Scott said. 'And he'll get his swing thought out. You just don't hit it good all the time.'
Woods found that out the hard way this year.
The last time he finished a year without a major, he was still working through an overhaul of his swing. He contended in the '98 majors more often than he did in 1997, when he won his first major at the Masters with a 12-stroke victory.
Things were different then.
'At the time, I had won only one major,' he said. 'It wasn't like I had won a whole bunch of majors and had expectations like I do now.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.