ARDMORE, Pa. – Tiger Woods will win another major championship. Right?
Smart money overwhelmingly says yes. In fact, I’m not sure odds-makers would even take money on the alternative. But the fact remains Woods hasn’t won a big one since that historic Monday five years ago at Torrey Pines, when Woods limped to victory over Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open.
On that day, Woods surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ major record of 18 seemed a foregone conclusion. Now, many wonder when No. 15 will come.
The 113th U.S. Open at Merion was an unmitigated disaster for Woods. He went from unanimous favorite to 13 over par in the span of four arduous days, good for a meager 32nd-place tie.
The 13-over score was Woods’ worst 72-hole total in a major championship as a professional. A third-round 76 was the worst score Woods has shot as a pro in this major championship. His scorecard for the week has 10 birdies, 20 bogeys and one triple bogey and he’s failed to break 70 over the weekend of a major since the 2012 Masters.
You get the point. It wasn’t pretty.
“There's always a lesson to be learned in every tournament whether you win or lose,” Woods said shortly after he tapped in for par on the 72nd hole. “I'll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong.
“I did a lot of things right. Unfortunately I did a few things wrong, as well.”
Truth is, Woods did more wrong than right. He struggled three out of four rounds.
He played Army golf off the tee for most of the weekend (missing both left and right of the fairway), his distance control was poor, especially with wedges into par 5s and shorter par 4s, and his putting was atrocious.
As Woods has done at most tournaments where he hasn’t contended, he blamed inconsistent green-speeds for a poor putting performance that produced 128 swipes with the flat stick all week – an average of 32 putts per round. Woods missed numerous 5-footers and even missed a 2-footer during the third round.
“I watched it for 6 yrs, I question Tiger’s preparation, he doesn’t practice his putting or short game enough on site at unfamiliar courses,” Woods’ former coach Hank Haney tweeted early Sunday morning.
Just when we got to a point where we thought our questions were answered, we have more questions. Woods has won four times this year on the PGA Tour – won four times by June 1 for the first time in his epic career – but he just is not the same player in the majors, especially over the weekend.
Granted, the Masters was defined by a spectacularly unlucky clank off a flagstick but the numbers are the numbers. And we will even pardon Woods for his final-round 74 here Sunday. He was uninterested because he was not even in the same area code with contention.
“I just didn’t quite hit the ball… hit the correct distances most of the time, but they weren’t in the correct areas that I’d like to have. I was trying to hit the ball in certain spots, give myself uphill looks on some other putts, but I didn’t quite do that.”
Now we move to the British Open next month at Muirfield, where Woods tied for 28th in 2002 and shot a third-round 81 but followed it with a final-round 65.
At the beginning of the year many analysts predicted that Woods would flourish at the British Open, a championship that he’s won three times, but not since 2006. Now that we’re upon the year’s third major, Woods’ quest for major No. 15 continues.
It’ll come at some point. Right?