Looks like Tiger’s heart just isn’t in it
The official line was that Tiger Woods “politely declined” to address the media after another ill-fated round at the Bridgestone Invitational Friday.
I seriously doubt he was very polite. It was only the second time all year that Woods had not spoken to the media after a round. But, then again, what was there to say?
A day after shooting a disastrous 74 — his worst round ever at Firestone Country Club — Woods hit the ball worse but scrambled better to turn in a two-over-par 72.
When he finished, at six over par, he was languishing in a tie for 75th on a course he’s won on seven of 11 times.
Woods, who was ahead of only five players when he tapped in for bogey on his last hole, has never finished worse than fourth here. It was the first time he’d ever posted back-to-back over-par rounds at any World Golf Championships event. In 15 years as a professional, Woods has only four times posted a worse 36-hole score.
But maybe those kinds of statistics have now become irrelevant. Because this isn’t the same Tiger Woods.
Not only has his game gone AWOL but I thought after watching him play on Thursday that his heart just wasn’t in it. He seemed like he’d regressed.
The promise of the AT&T National and St. Andrews — baby steps, admittedly, given his mediocre finishes — gave way to the disinterest of Quail Hollow, where Woods slapped it around and missed the cut.
Certainly he’s played at Firestone like he wants the weekend off. Except there’s no cut at the World Golf Championships, so he’ll be forced to toil for two more days.
Maybe his heart’s not in it because, as I’m told, his divorce papers are close to being signed?
Maybe his head, as CBS analyst David Feherty suggests, is too full of slamming doors to concentrate on golf?
Maybe he shouldn’t really be out here?
I don’t know what showing up and playing like this achieves.
On Friday, he took up where he left off on Thursday. Except the saving grace was that his short game was much sharper.
It needed to be. Woods hit one fairway in his first nine holes yet made the turn in even par because of a host of magical saves from the trees.
It was like watching Seve Ballesteros in his prime; never a dull moment. I doubt even the swashbuckling Spaniard could’ve topped what Woods did on the 14th.
Woods pull hooked a driver into a bad lie on the fairway bunker on the 13th. Caddie Steve Williams was waiting on the correct fairway with his man’s bag and rolled his eyes as he watched the ball sail over his right shoulder.
But Woods found a gap through the trees and somehow got a low hooking mid-iron into the front right greenside bunker. He was short-sided but still splashed to five feet and saved par.
In the past Woods would’ve used the momentum of a big par save like that to rattle off a string of birdies. Not the Tiger of Friday.
Soon enough, he was back in the woods. He hit only two fairways on his inward nine for a total of eight in two rounds. On Friday he found only seven greens.
Woods complained in his pre-tournament news conference that he hasn’t had time to practice. It has to be noted that after both rounds here, he hasn’t gone to the driving range to practice but instead left the course immediately.
Woods played alongside Lee Westwood for the first two rounds and the Englishman, ranked third in the world, was one of the five players Woods managed to beat.
Westwood, however, had an excuse because his injured calf is still causing his ankle to swell and making playing golf difficult.
“It just seems to be getting worse,” he said. “There’s no strength in it. I don’t have a great deal of confidence in it, then on the way down (during his swing), I’m finding it hard to hold my weight on it and then push off.”
Westwood later pulled out of the tournament and also said he’d miss the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin next week, the year’s final major.
He said it had been a tough two days, for both he and Woods.
“Neither of us played very well today, did we?” he said. “We’re all human, we all have bad days.”
When someone noted that they were laughing for much of the round, Westwood shrugged.
“What are you going to do, cry?”