CHARLOTTE, N.C. – So much for Tiger Woods wanting the attention to return to his golf.
In a shocking meltdown Friday at the Quail Hollow Championship, Woods matched the worst nine-hole score of his PGA Tour career and wound up with a 7-over 79 to miss a cut for only the sixth time in his 14-year career.
He had three-putt bogeys on consecutive holes. He hit a flop shot that ran over the green and into the water. And he bottomed out on the 15th green with a four-putt double bogey from just over 30 feet.
“It is what it is,” Woods said when asked if rust or mechanics were the culprit. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t good enough.”
Not even close.
Making the performance even more surprising is that Woods was coming off a tie for fourth at the Masters three weeks ago, a remarkable performance considering it was his first competition since a five-month break after being caught cheating on his wife.
This was a big step backward.
The 79 was his second-worst score as a pro behind an 81 that Woods shot in the wind-blown third round of the 2002 British Open at Muirfield when he was going for the Grand Slam. His 43 on the back tied his worst nine-hole score on tour; he also shot 43 at the Bay Hill Invitational three years ago, and the 1996 Tour Championship.
“He’s obviously got things in his mind other than what’s going between the ropes right now,” said British Open champion Stewart Cink, who played with Woods. “You’ve got to learn how to balance what’s going on in your life with your golf. And if you’re not in a great place mentally, then it sometimes shows up out there.”
Woods finished at 9-over 153, the highest 36-hole total of his career.
Billy Mayfair birdied his final hole for a 4-under 68 and was the 36-hole leader at 8-under 136. He had a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, who played in Woods’ group. J.P. Hayes matched the Quail Hollow record with a 64 that put him in the group at 6-under 138 along with Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Paul Goydos.
This was Woods’ first time playing at a regular PGA Tour event with public ticket sales, and the crowd was gracious as ever with a few exceptions. Two fans, including a woman, held thumbs-down as Woods walked off the 15th green. Police also escorted away a fan who apparently heckled Woods as he left the 17th green. A friend of the fan, who declined to give his name, said the fan only said, “No red shirt for you on Sunday.”
Otherwise, it was clear over the last two days the fans were more interested in Woods as a golfer than anything to do with his personal life. He just didn’t give them much to cheer. And he won’t be around for the weekend.
“You have to let it go,” Woods said. “It’s like baseball – you go 0-for-4 two days in a row like I did, you’ve got a whole new tournament next week, which is great.”
Woods is to compete next week at The Players Championship. He won at Sawgrass in 2001, but he also has finished out of the top 20 more often there than at any other tournament.
It was the first time Woods missed a cut since the British Open last summer at Turnberry, and the first time at a regular PGA Tour event since the Disney Classic at the end of the 2005 season.
“Give this guy a chance, though. He’ll bounce back,” Mayfair said. “We all know that. Everyone on tour knows that. By him missing a few cuts here and there, it’s just going to make him come back even stronger. I don’t think anyone out here is worried about Tiger, and I’m sure Tiger is not worried about it right now, either.”
One shot over the projected cut going to the back nine, Woods bogeyed the next three holes before it really turned ugly. He hit driver on the 329-yard 14th hole well to the right on a hill, leaving him a downhill shot to a green sloping toward the water. His flop shot came out too hot, bounded across the green and went into the water for a double bogey.
He didn’t take much time over shots after that, appearing to have packed in it.
“I didn’t have much,” Woods said. “At that point in time, it was pretty much out of reach, and I was just trying to stay out of Angel’s way. He’s the one who’s leading the golf tournament.”
Even so, Woods’ poor play was exacerbated by the four-putt on the 15th. He ran his 30-foot birdie attempt about 3 1/2 feet by the hole, caught the lip with his par putt, then rapped a 30-inch putt that spun around the cup.
“I’ve seen him struggle like that off the tee,” said Cink, who also missed the cut. “But he’s usually the magician that gets the ball up and down from everywhere, hits some miraculous shots out of the trees and stuff. But you’ve got to remember, he hasn’t played a lot of golf since about November. It’s hard to just come back and be the magician instantly.”
Of the six times Woods has missed the cut, the 17-shot gap between him and the leader was the largest by three shots.
Woods holds the PGA Tour record for 142 consecutive tournaments making the cut, which ended at the 2005 Byron Nelson Classic. He also missed the cut at the 1997 Canadian Open and the 2006 U.S. Open.
But he never looked as bad as he did Friday at Quail Hollow.
It started on his back nine when a 3-wood narrowly missed clearing the bunker in front of the green. Woods flubbed the bunker shot, chipped too strong and missed the par putt.
“Ten was a pretty big deflator right there, because I hit a 3-wood and missed clearing the bunker by about a foot and ended up making bogey on a hole that I should have made a birdie,” he said. “So that hurt a lot.”
Bogeys on the next two holes were set up by poor tee shots, not unusual the way he was driving the ball. Woods hit only two fairways – none on the back nine, and none since the fourth hole.
Even so, the real problem was his short game and mental mistakes. After opening with a 10-foot birdie to get inside the cut line, it wasn’t long before problems began to surface – not the bogeys, but how he was making them.
Knowing how fast the putt is from above the hole at No. 3, Woods still ran it 8 feet by and three-putted for bogey, the first of consecutive three-putt bogeys. On the par-3 sixth, he had an awkward stance with his ball just outside the bunker. The worst thing he could do was chip too strong, yet that’s what he did, running it 10 feet by the hole and missing a downhill par putt that he barely touched.
On the next hole, he faced a simple chip that he only had to get to a ridge in the green, but chipped it off the other side and had to scramble for par on a hole where most players expect birdie.
Through it all, he made the turn at 2 over for the tournament, easily within range of making the cut.
It all changed so quickly, and before long, Woods was headed home to Florida.
“It does bother me, no doubt,” he said. “But at least I get the weekend to watch and see how it’s done, how real players play golf. And hopefully, I can piece it together for next week and be ready to go.”
Woods misses cut at Quail Hollow
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – So much for Tiger Woods wanting the attention to return to his golf.
LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs
The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.
For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.
It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.
“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.
The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.
Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.
“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”
Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.
Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.
Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.
“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.
University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”
Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.
“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”
Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.
“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”
Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.
“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”
Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber
AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.
According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.
“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”
Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.
Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.
Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events
AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”
The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.
“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”
Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”
Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.
“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”
Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor
John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Web.com Tour.
Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.
But Senden told PGATour.com that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.
"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."
Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five Web.com "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.
Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.