Woods opened with a routine bogey – and yes, his bogeys have become routine – made par on the next two holes, then found his Waterloo on the fourth, heavy on the water. After a pulled 3-wood off the tee, his approach shot splashed, then he dropped some 30 yards from the green and uncharacteristically chunked a chip into the same hazard. That triple-bogey was followed by a bogey-par-par-par-bogey finish for a front-nine 6-over 42.
And then he was done.
Woods withdrew from The Players Championship for the second straight year, citing lingering injuries to his left knee and Achilles. There’s no question these issues affected his game on Thursday, as he walked with a noticeable limp throughout the round, even using one of his clubs as a crutch at times.
“I’m having a hard time walking,” Woods said. “The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that, and then the calf started cramping up. Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”
What is unclear, however, is how the injuries affected his mindset and confidence.
A pulled drive here, a fanned approach there – those can be explained away as the result of physical issues that are hampering his swing.
Chunked chips – yes, plural for those nine holes – and a demeanor that screamed his give-a-heck meter was on empty may each be a sign that Woods continues to have issues that are larger than physical injuries.
One thing is certain after Woods’ latest denouement: His future remains in doubt, perhaps now more than ever before.
“The more rest I get, the better it would be, obviously,” Woods said. “It’s a big event. I wanted to come back for it and play, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish.”