Tuesday 25 July 2017

Nightmare finish sees Tiger hit career low

Tiger Woods lines up his putt on the 16th green on his way to a seven-over par final round. Photo: Getty Images
Tiger Woods lines up his putt on the 16th green on his way to a seven-over par final round. Photo: Getty Images

Golf Bernie McGuire in Akron, Ohio

A young spectator hit in the face by Tiger Woods will have something to boast about when he returns to Pennsylvania following the WGC -- Bridgestone Invitational.

In contrast, Woods has little to brag about, after slumping to his worst four-round display since turning professional.

A disastrous closing round of 77 left him lamenting a share of second-last place with an 18-over-par tally.

Included in Woods' final round were three birdies, but also six bogeys and a pair of double-bogeys.

With less than two months to the Ryder Cup showdown at Celtic Manor, Woods has hinted for the first time that unless there's a marked turnaround in his game, he would not expect USA captain Corey Pavin to select him for the showpiece, which starts on October 1.

Woods has played in five Ryder Cups, but at this stage would need a 'captain's pick' to make the team.

"I would not want to play in the Ryder Cup playing like this. Definitely not, not playing like this," said Woods. "I mean, I wouldn't help the team if I'm playing like this. No one would help the team if they're shooting 18-over-par."

Woods heads to Thursday's US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, in the worst form of his life.

"I think I can turn it around, but we've got a lot of time between now and the Ryder Cup, which is good."

Woods began his final round in the unorthodox second match of the day, and got off to a good start with a second hole birdie, but then proceeded to post four bogeys in six holes from the third. He began the back nine with a bogey and managed to birdie the 11th.

Woods knocked in a six-footer for birdie at the 13th but came up short with his second shot at the par-four 14th, leaving it in the fringes of the rough.

He then chipped and watched as his ball rolled off the green and 12 feet by the hole. He three-putted for a double-bogey with his last putt, only just managing to find the edge of the hole.

Woods had the crowd scattering at the next but 25-year old Eric Herzeing, from Ridgeway, Pennsylvania, who wasn't quick enough, was hit in the face by the errant par-three tee shot. Woods asked him if he was okay and Herzeing responded: "I've got a little blood, but I'm good."

Glove

Woods then signed a glove and threw him the ball after putting for a rare par.

Another wayward drive past the line of spectators down the 16th had the crowd scattering again, when his second shot cannoned off the branch of a tree and back into the crowd.

Woods then put his fourth shot in the water hazard guarding the 16th green for a second double-bogey in three holes.

"Shooting 18-over-par is not fun. I don't see how it can be fun shooting 18-over, especially since my handicap is supposed to be zero," he said.

"So the whole idea now is to start afresh next week. I definitely don't want to start 18-over-par next week, so it's nice that the tournament is over and we can focus on next week.

"The only good thing I can say about this week is I was patient, and unfortunately that's not enough!"

Woods was further quizzed if he would prefer if there was not a Major championship this week and responded: "Well that's the way it is as I've got to be ready come Thursday. That's all that matters."

And while Woods declared he was not surprised by his performance this week, given he has won on seven of the 11 occasions, he was asked if his problems 'were mental' but only replied: "It's been a long year."

On a dismal day, the only positive news for Woods was that his position as world No 1 was safe for another week as Phil Mickelson's challenge faltered dramatically. The American went one worse than Woods by carding a eight-over-par 78 to leave him on three-over for the tournament.

Padraig Harrington produced yet another timely return to form with a 66 on the final day although his effort was out-done by eventual winner Hunter Mahan who carded a superb 64 to win by two shots on 12 under par from Ryan Palmer (69).

Harrington jumped some 21 places and into the top 10 in a display that included a second-hole eagle and four birdies for a five-under-par tally.

It was Harrington's lowest round of the tournament as he now heads to the season's final Major at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

"I created a lot of chances out there today and even though I struggled on the greens, I am happy," he said. "It was nice going forward and I am happy with the game as I leave here.

Rory McIlroy then joined Harrington inside the top 10 with another roller-coaster mix of four birdies spread among three bogeys for an eventual five-under-par to join the likes of reigning British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (65), Australia's Adam Scott (67) and Ryder Cup rival Steve Stricker (67).

And Graeme McDowell can also head north to the Lake Michigan shoreline course in Wisconsin delighted with his first competitive showing in the States since capturing the US Open despite ending with a 72 for a one-under-par score. McDowell's final round included two birdies on his opening three holes, before a fourth-hole double-bogey.

The Portrush player then birdied the fifth but dropped shots at three of the next four holes. He then birdied the 12th ahead of dropping a further shot at the last.

Irish Independent

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