Bad memories: Pros recount rounds in the 80s


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Here’s something you already know: Tiger Woods posted an 82 on Friday, the worst single-round score of his professional career.

Here’s something you might not know: Shooting a number that high happens to every top player at some point – even if many of 'em have blocked it out of their minds.

“Man, I’m sure I did it at the British Open one year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “I want to say that’s the only place I’ve done it.”

“Oh, gosh,” answered Zach Johnson. “I’m pretty sure I’ve shot 80 at Augusta. It could have been 81 or 82. I don’t know.”

“I have no idea,” Matt Kuchar admitted. “Most likely a long time ago, but it could have been a British Open or one of those types of days.”

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One day after Woods’ uncharacteristically ugly score, reactions were mixed when players were asked about the last time they’d reached the low 80s.

There were those who couldn’t remember, but there were just as many who couldn’t forget - even if they wanted to.

“I shot 80 here last year,” Keegan Bradley instantly recalled after the Waste Management Phoenix Open third round. “That’s the highest round I’ve shot probably since I was a freshman in college.”

It not only led to a missed cut after an opening 66, it gave him reason to doubt himself.

“When it happened to me, it scared me,” he continued. “It was scary. I never felt like that before. No matter what I did, I couldn’t salvage it. I’m pretty good at salvaging rounds and fighting back. I couldn’t do it and it was scary.”

How long did it take for Bradley to regain his composure?

“It took me awhile. It surprised me that I had that in me to shoot that high. It rattled me, for sure.”

He isn’t the only player to post a big number in the overpopulated asylum that is TPC Scottsdale.

“You know what? It was right here. This tournament, three years ago,” Stewart Cink said of an opening-round 83. “And it was humbling.”

While some players contend that a missed cut is a missed cut, no matter the score, Cink insisted that a score so high can lead to some frayed nerves.

“It’s much worse to shoot a high score than to miss the cut by a few,” he explained. “Way worse. That’s a damaging kind of thing. It’s pretty traumatizing. It just kind of comes out of nowhere. But I did it without the spotlight really being on me.”

His implication – and a correct one at that – was that Woods’ big number came with the eyes of the world firmly affixed to his performance.

Others have the ability to blow up in relative anonymity. And because of that, maybe the ability to forget about it even quicker.

“It was Bay Hill in 2013,” Billy Horschel said of a final-round 85. “Didn’t matter to me. The next week, I came back and finished second in Houston.”

That alone should be reason for optimism in Camp Woods, though as Horschel pointed out, not all high scores are created equal.

“There are different ways of shooting 82,” he resolved. “If you feel like you’re close and shoot 82, that’s fine. If you feel lost and shoot 82, then you’re lost. Then that’s a tough one to come back from. You don’t know where you’re going with your golf game. You have no direction, no path.”

As every player said when asked about shooting a particularly poor score, you get over it – whether that takes minutes, days or weeks – because of the most basic truth about such a situation.

There is no other option.

“If you’re off, you’re off,” Johnson reasoned. “I don’t want to say the scorecard is irrelevant, but when you’re trying to get back into a rhythm and trying to get back into golf-playing mode, you’ve got to take those days and just chew on them.”

“Any one of us, as a professional golfer, we can feel a long way off,” agreed Kuchar. “But it’s just as simple as finding the right thing. You can feel a long way off, but it’s just making the right change, putting the right ingredient in, and you can go win a tournament. It can happen that quickly.”

Woods will tee it up once again at Torrey Pines in just a few days. He’d love for it to happen that quickly, to erase the 82 and instantly rid himself of any doubts about his game.

Maybe, though, it will take longer.

What we do know is that like any other player who has posted a big number, he’ll get over it. Because just like the rest of 'em, he doesn’t have any other choice.