June 15, 2018

Woods Struggles In Second Round of U.S. Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Tiger Woods was filled with optimism last Sunday when he arrived at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and played nine holes with Jordan Spieth.

His ball-striking and short game were solid, and he fully expected a balky putter to heat up after lengthy home practice sessions.

Woods did not expect to miss the cut at the 118th U.S. Open.

He got off on the wrong foot Thursday afternoon in brisk, swirling winds with a triple-bogey on the first hole and struggled to a 78. Playing in an unscheduled drizzle Friday morning, Woods steadied with a 72, capped by two closing birdies.

His 10-over 150 total was two shots above the cut line. Only one player – Dustin Johnson – is in red figures at 4-under.

“You don’t win major championships by kind of slapping it all over the place and missing putts,” a composed but frustrated Woods said. “You have to be on. You can’t fake it.”

After carding a triple and two doubles Thursday, his lone hiccup Friday came at the par-4 first, where he made a seven in the first round.

Once again, he found the fairway, but blocked his second shot into heavy wet rough. Woods did well to gouge his third on the green, but the ball carried too far and rolled down the same slope that gave him fits Thursday. He was unable to get up and down.

This came after an admirable opening nine. Paired with Johnson and Justin Thomas, Woods stuffed his approach at the par-4 10th and converted the short birdie putt. He followed with three straight pars, then bogeyed 14, birdied 16 and bogeyed 18 for an even-par 35.

While the changing winds and rain made it difficult to lock in on the speed of the greens, Woods seldom looked comfortable.

“I’m not happy with the way I played or putted,” he said. “I’m 10-over par. You can’t be too happy or excited about 10-over par.”

Woods used 30 putts Thursday and 28 Friday.

“It’s what I’ve done the last few events,” said the 42-year-old Woods. “I just haven’t putted well.”

Woods flushed his driver Friday, finding 11 of 14 fairways. But he failed to capitalize, reaching only nine greens in regulation and couldn’t generate momentum.

“If I would have putted like I did at the beginning of the year with this ball-striking, that would be ideal,” he said. “Unfortunately I just haven’t done that.”

It was the 10th start of the year for Woods, whose only previous missed cut came at the Genesis Open in mid-February.

Some perspective. Due to injuries, Shinnecock marked only his second major appearance since 2015, Woods tying for 32nd in April at the Masters. He has competed in nine majors since 2015, his best showing a tie for 17th in 2014 at Augusta National.

The point is, Woods is still working his way back into form after four back surgeries. Yes, he has 79 PGA Tour victories and 14 major titles, both second all-time. But this is a process and the signs have been positive.

Woods entered 2018 having participated in only ONE Tour event in two years. He has already contended three times and recorded four top 12 finishes, tying for second at the Valspar Championship and earned a share of fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, who made the cut at Shinnecock and chose Woods as an assistant captain, has no doubt that Woods is on the right path.

“I honestly believe he’s going to win a golf tournament this calendar year,” he said. “Before December ’18, I think Tiger is going to win a golf tournament.”

If you don’t think Woods believes that, think again.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Have you seen the way I’ve been swinging?”

Woods will return to competition in the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac at Avenal Farm near Washington, D.C., June 28 through July 1. The tournament is run by TGR Live and proceeds benefit the TGR Foundation and local youth charities.

He has also committed to play in the 147th Open Championship, July 19-22 at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.