SAN FRANCISCO – It’s difficult to know where to begin with Tiger Woods’ week at the U.S. Open.
Golf’s alpha male was essentially handed the U.S. Open on Friday evening when he held a share of the 36-hole lead. He was grouped with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson for the first two rounds and beat them so badly that they looked like amateur playing partners during a casual Wednesday pro-am. A fourth Open and 15th major were within grasp and many in these parts thought the weekend would be one long coronation ceremony.
Then, suddenly, Woods looked like the guy who slapped it around the Masters for four days and tied for 40th place. He began missing fairways, lost control of his distance – particularly on wedge shots inside 125 yards – and could not buy a putt with all the money in his bank account.
After opening with 69-70 he closed with 75-73 on the weekend for a 7-over-par 287 total. On Sunday he went 6 over par on the first six holes with four bogeys and a double bogey, ending any hope of contending. He tied for 21st place.
“There’s a lot of positive this week,” Woods contended. “Hit the ball really well. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the speed of the greens.
“The way I struck the golf ball, the way I controlled it all week is something that’s very positive going forward and if I just would have hung in there a little bit better yesterday and missed it on the correct side a couple times then I would have been in a better position.”
The statistics don’t suggest that Woods was on top of his game. He certainly didn’t play as well as he did in victory two weeks ago at the Memorial. All told he hit 33 of 56 fairways for the week, hit 45 of 72 greens and took 123 putts. He was in a greenside bunker 11 times and got up and down just twice.
Woods contends that the numbers do lie.
“I'm excited about the consistency of it, how well I hit the ball all week, really,” Woods said. “The misses were just a fraction off, which is great. That's what we want to have happen. And this golf course is just so demanding that a fraction off you pay a price.”
Woods’ next event is the AT&T National in two weeks at Congressional. He will play the following week at the Greenbrier Classic, take a week off, then attempt to win major No. 15 at the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in mid-July.