Open No More for Woods

By Mercer BaggsJune 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Sunday, someone will raise the U.S. Open trophy and will likely pay homage to their father. But it wont be Tiger Woods.
Woods shot his second straight 6-over 76 Friday to assure him of the weekend off for the first time in 38 major championships as a professional.
After a couple of months worth of personal turmoil, this one had to sting, at least on a professional level.
Hes not God. Those were the words of one fan after seeing Tigers score as he played his final hole in the second round, his final hole of the tournament, the par-4 ninth.
No, hes not God. If he was, he probably wouldnt take his name in vain, like when he did after pulling his tee shot into the rough on the par-5 fifth.
Scorecard: Tiger struggled again in Rd. 2
Tiger Woods
Little went right for Tiger Woods during two frustrating rounds at Winged Foot.
By that time, Woods was already 10 over par for the tournament, 4 over for the day. He made a pair of double-bogeys over his first seven holes, and offset a birdie at the 17th, his eighth hole of the day, with a bogey at the fourth.
That bogey was truly the beginning of the end for Woods. He had made some incredible par saves to start his second nine and remain at 9 over, and then pured his tee shot on the par-4 fourth.
Holy [bleep]! That must be 320, 330 (yards). Those were the edited words of another fan who witnessed Tigers massive drive split the center of the fairway, at least 20 yards further than his playing competitors, defending champion Michael Campbell and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Eduardo Molinari.
For the better part of 12 holes, Woods had been scrambling to save par ' and even to try and salvage bogey. Now he had a chance to make just his fourth birdie of the tournament, and give him a chance to hang around for the weekend. Instead, he pushed his approach to the right, 35 feet from the flag; knocked his birdie putt 8 feet past; and then two-putted from there to dig his hole a little bit deeper.
That dropped him to 10 over and put him in grave danger of missing the cut. The last noticeable scoreboard, a few holes back, showed Steve Stricker leading the way at 2 under. And with the top 60 and all those within 10 strokes of the lead making the cut, Woods had to make a big move in a small amount of time.
He could be in trouble if Stricker stays at 2 (under).
Strickers not going to stay at 2.
The fans on the second hole were right; Stricker didnt stay at 2 under. In fact, he bogeyed his 16th and 17th holes of the day to fall back to even par ' making Tigers 10 over total, at the time, the cut line.
Woods errant drive at the 515-yard, par-5 fifth led to another scrambling par. Every time a window of opportunity seemed to open for Woods, he managed to shut it on his own hands.
At the par-4 sixth, a hole measuring around 320 yards, Woods selected driver, much to the delight of the crowd. He then proceeded to hit it about 40 yards off line and to the right.
Before he could flop his second shot over the gallery and onto the green, the scoreboard near the sixth green made a change. Strickers score was removed.
Wheres Stricker going?
And then came a huge groan. Stricker had birdied his final hole to post 1 under. Tigers 10 over was no longer good enough to cut it.
He managed to save par on No. 6, meaning he needed at least one birdie over his final three holes to make it. Whether or not Tiger knew that for fact or not as he approached the tee on the seventh is not clear. But the expressions on the groups collective faces left nothing to the imagination as to where they stood in the tournament. Combined, the three men were at 31 over ' and they looked it.
Woods definitely knew where he stood by the time he reached the seventh green. Having placed his approach shot, from the fairway for once, 20 feet right of the hole, another scoreboard stood off the left, staring right into the eyes of Tiger.
I knew if I made one birdie coming in and a couple of pars, the 10-shot rule would get me in, he admitted.
He missed that putt, however, and went on to bogey both 8 and 9 for a game-ending, 12-over-par total.
Gas up the jet -- one fans comment off the eighth green.
Hes pissed -- the words of another fan along the ninth fairway. To which his friend replied, I would imagine; hes not used to this.
That hes not. This is a first for Tiger, missing a cut in a major championship as a professional. But, in general, its becoming more commonplace. After finishing in the money a record 142 straight times on the PGA TOUR, he has missed the cut in three of his last 18 stroke-play starts on TOUR.
Pissed, replied Woods when asked his emotional state after the round (good call by the fan). That pretty much sums it up right there. I thought I was playing well enough to shoot an under-par round today, and I didnt do that.
Said Campbell, who also finished at 12 over, Toughest conditions in the world at a major championship, the first time coming back after two months off, his father passing away ' I mean, God, youve got to give him credit for actually turning up.
Hes pretty focused, but the intensity wasnt there as it normally is, Campbell added. I actually felt that as a player playing next to him.
Next up for Woods is likely the Western Open, an event three weeks from now and two weeks before the British Open. Its an event hes won three times, and will probably be his lone start before he heads to Royal Liverpool to defend his Open crown.
Between now and then? Practice, Woods said.
This one doesn't come as a total shock to everyone considering that he hasnt played competitively in nine weeks. And while he wont admit to his game being rusty, there is a huge difference between practicing and playing at home, and competing when the shots count ' on a U.S. Open setup, nonetheless.
No, not rust, he proclaimed. Unfortunately, I just didnt put it together at the right time. I just didnt execute properly.
He continued Friday to blame his inability to adjust to the speed of the greens on the West Course, greens he deemed slower than usual on a U.S. Open layout. He took 30 putts in round 2, along with 33 in round 1.
But what really stood out over the two days was his poor driving. On a course in which rough measured well over 6 inches in spots, on a course where you simply cannot miss fairways and be successful, Tiger did ' and he wasnt. Woods hit four of those narrow, 22-28-yard fairways Friday, giving him a grand total of seven hit fairways through two rounds.
That greatly contributed to him hitting only 50 percent of his greens in regulation ' 10 of 18 on Thursday, eight of 18 on Friday.
Hes got a lot on his mind, what with his dad.
The fan on the first hole was right, but playing for the first time since the death of his father, Earl, may have had little to do with this result. And if it did, Tiger would never admit it.
Whats transpired off the golf course, I dont know if it gives you a different type of perspective. But I dont care if you had what transpired in my life of recent or not, but poor execution is never going to feel very good, Woods said.
Ive gone, I guess a while without missing one, he added. Unfortunately, I missed this one. Hopefully, I can win the British.
He'll be back. I'm telling you, watch; he'll be back.
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”