Tiger Woods slipped under the cut-line at the Cialis Western Open by coming up with a couple of key birdies late in the day Friday. Had it not been for that bit of excellence, he would have had to call it quits after 125 consecutive tournaments in which he had not missed a cut.
Woods was slip-sliding away after his 12th and 13th holes - Nos. 3 and 4 at Cog Hill. He went double bogey and bogey on those efforts, and suddenly he was 3 over. The cut-line was at 1 over. Unless he turned it around - and right away - he was gone lock, stock and driver.
But Tiger, as he has done so often in his career when he simply, absolutely had to, got off the bogey train just in time. He nailed a couple of crucial birdies. He had made just one all day long, but he hunkered down on his 15th (No. 6) to get one, then came right back at his 16th (No. 7) to breathe life into his tournament hopes.
The streak began in 1998 after he had failed to show up for the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which had been postponed from February until August. That event makes a cut after three rounds.
He also missed the cut by one stroke in the 1997 Bell Canadian Open ' the only 'real' missed cut of his career. He shot a 76 to miss that one after shooting a 70 the first day.
Actually, its not a cuts-made streak since a number of the events (five now on the PGA Tour per year) have no cuts. Included in his streak of 125 no-cuts are 25 tournaments in which there were no cuts.
Byron Nelson had the old record of 113 straight tournaments without missing a cut ' though the records are choppy with incomplete newspaper results. But it was a far different game in those days back in the 40s. On the one hand, the competition may not have been as difficult with World Way II ongoing. But on the other hand, many tournaments paid only the top 20 players. Nelson was in the money at least 113 straight times.
Tiger eclipsed that mark by not missing a cut all the way until the Tour Championship, the last tournament of last year. Fridays close call was a nail biter indeed, but it was not Woods scariest moment. In the 2002 Buick Invitational, he was one off the cut coming to the 36th hole (No. 18), but he birdied the hole, holing a curling 6-footer to make it right on the number. At the 2001 PGA Championship, he was two off the cut after the 14th hole. However, on No. 15 he made a 40-footer to pull within one, hit the cut-line with a 30-footer on 16, then ended up with another closing birdie to make the cut by one.
The record is iffy about when Tigers record streak begins. If you count the next tournament he played after the Canadian in 97 ' the Walt Disney ' the streak is up to 129. But the 98 Pebble Beach throws a monkey wrench into the equation. Pebble Beach that year was a 54-hole tournament which, thanks to torrential downpours, was decided seven months after it began. Woods chose not to return to the Monterey Peninsula, but its unlikely he would have made the cut anyway. His score of 76-72 was 14 strokes behind the leaders and he would have had to shoot a 65 to make the cut. Pebble Beach is a 54-hole cut, not the traditional 36.
Woods camp accepts the Disney in 97 as the start of the steak, but the PGA Tour counts the week after Pebble Beach ' the Buick ' as the beginning. Woods is credited as withdrawing.
Included in his 11 starts this season are seven finishes in the top 10. However, he tied for 46th at Bay Hill, where he had won four consecutive times, and finished in a tie for 17th at his most recent outing, the U.S. Open.
Tiger finished third or fourth in the three tournaments prior to the Open, primarily thanks to brilliant putting. He stands third in that category on the tour rankings, and that roller has saved many a bogey from becoming a reality. However, his driver has kept him constantly in trouble ' he ranks 160th in fairways hit. And more telling, perhaps, has been his record on the par-3s. The par-3s is a good indication of how you are hitting your irons. Woods is 145th in that category.
And so he goes on with his record now at 126. He has, indeed, been lucky. But lets face it ' every time he seems like it will surely, certainly end, Tiger comes up with a way, a will, to keep the streak alive. And so far, thats 126 straight times of playing on the weekend. Thats 126 straight times of making the cut. And nobody else in history can say that.
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