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Rust Or something more serious

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Tiger Woods missed the cut for just the sixth time in his career. Was is just a case of rust, or something more serious to be concerned about? Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer their takes.


By REX HOGGARD

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On Tuesday at a player meeting Rory Sabbatini blasted the PGA Tour’s 54-hole cut. Sometime just past the turn on Friday Tiger Woods might have been wondering if it were really necessary to go the full 36.

The whispers were rampant across Quail Hollow . . . he gave up, was the collective assessment, notable only because ETW has never given up. When he missed the cut last year at Turnberry he did so at the hands of Mother Nature. When he was ousted at the 2006 U.S. Open it was the death of his father that justifiably led Woods to distraction and down the road.

And, on an emotional level, Friday’s gangly 79 was no different. When your life has been turned upside down, either by self-inflicted actions or otherwise, it’s hard to find your focus, or the right side of the club.

“He just ain’t there right now,” Boo Weekley offered. “He’s human.”

It has always been easy to think otherwise. Fifteen-stroke U.S. Open victories, 12-stroke Masters walk-overs, national championships on one leg, they all defied reason and lulled us into believing that the game Woods played was different.

Woods will find that magic again, be it on the range at Isleworth or the salty turf at Pebble Beach. It’s just going to take some time.

By RANDALL MELL

Let’s get this out of the way quickly: Tiger Woods will bounce back with a vengeance.

You know he will. He always figures it out.

But let’s get this out there right away: Woods looked like he gave up.

That was the shocker Friday at Quail Hollow.

The white flag we saw Woods raise on the back nine tells you there may be something more awry in his game than we’ve ever seen. The way he conceded, it’s a sign his swing may be more challenged than it’s ever been. Or maybe it’s a sign of something worse, a fracture of the spirit. That might take more time to fix than the swing.

Whatever it is, if you’re a fellow competitor, this smells like an opportunity, like Woods is farther off his game than he’s ever been and may need more time figuring it out than he’s ever needed.

Shooting 79, missing the cut by eight shots, those were startling, even given all that Woods has been through since his sex scandal rocked the golf world. Nothing, however, was more jarring than seeing Woods give less than his best over every shot. The fact that we’ve never seen that before is a tribute to Woods, and a reason to believe he’ll fight his way back. Because he always does.

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