Sport Golf

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Humbling blunders sink Tiger

William S Callahan

TIGER WOODS was humiliated more by his ham-fisted golf game at Quail Hollow yesterday than any seedy revelations about his sex life during a winter of discontent.

Woods was so seriously wounded and bleeding shots during his second round that, one suspects for the first time in his career, he even waved the white flag of surrender before signing for a seven-over par 79.

There is hardly any other explanation for the astonishing events witnessed by the packed gallery around the green at 15 as Woods four-putted from 36 feet for his second double-bogey in a row.

Tiger's fate had been sealed when a six on 14 had sent him stumbling to five-over par for his second round -- seven-over for the tournament and almost certainly consigned him to only the sixth missed cut of his 13-year professional career. Yet Woods still shocked onlookers by missing three of those putts on the par-five 15th from inside 42 inches, simply wafting his putter one-handed at the penultimate effort from little more than two feet.

After returning from his five-month hiatus to claim a remarkable tie for fourth place at the US Masters, Woods ran headlong into reality with Thursday's 74 at Quail Hollow. But that was only a foretaste of the humiliation to come for Woods on yesterday's back nine. Level through the turn after balancing three birdies with three bogeys on his outward half, Tiger ran-up a hat-trick of dropped shots at 10, 11 and 12.

Then came that stunning double at 14, followed by abject surrender on 15 as Woods headed for a woeful 79, his worst round in a regular PGA Tour event and exceeded only by the storm-tossed third-round 80 Tiger posted at the 2002 British Open at Muirfield.

Woods was remarkably forthright immediately after completing yesterday's homeward half in 43, his worst nine-hole score on Tour. "I didn't play well. I struck the ball alright but my short game wasn't good. I chipped poorly and putted poorly," he said. When asked what this abject display meant to him, he quipped: "It means I have the weekend off."


Offering stark comparison with his woeful efforts, Tiger's playing companion Angel Cabrera surged into second place on seven-under par after a splendid 67 -- one behind remarkable Monday qualifier Billy Mayfair.

Phil Mickelson, who forced his way into contention on six under with a fine four-under-par 68 yesterday, will knock Woods off the top of the world rankings if he wins at Quail Hollow tomorrow and at Sawgrass next week.

Mickelson was 'Mr Consistency' and Ireland's Padraig Harrington turned thrill-seeker as two of modern golf's great Major champions performed their own intriguing version of 'Trading Places' yesterday.

It was difficult to work out which was the most impressive feature of Masters champion Mickelson's round -- playing the treacherous back-nine here in four-under par 32 or the number of clutch putts he sank as he came home with nine straight pars.

While the Californian surged into contention, Harrington wallowed in mid-table on level par after a second 72.

On the surface, the 38-year-old Dubliner's opening 36 holes might appear pedestrian but Harrington really took a walk on the wild side this week as he racked up one eagle, eight birdies and no fewer than 10 bogeys.

Though he's been wayward from tee to green, Harrington's streaky putting has been the most surprising feature of his performance at Quail Hollow.

Take his efforts on the front nine yesterday. Harrington played his outward half in three-under par. He yanked his opening tee shot way left and into trouble. Yet he sank a phenomenal 20-foot putt to save par and then rolled in a six-footer for birdie at the second.

After making bogey five from the fringe of the third green, Harrington sank a 22-foot monster for birdie at four; failed to save par from eight feet at six; hit a brilliant 7-iron in to inches for that eagle at seven; holed-out from seven feet for another birdie at eight and then missed a six-foot opportunity at nine. It was all hugely entertaining but we saw the dark side on the back nine as Harrington stumbled to three ugly bogeys.

Mickelson certainly underlined his recovery yesterday after a bout of food-poisoning earlier this week and he looked most dangerous of the four players clustered on six-under in the clubhouse, including Dustin Johnson, Paul Goydos and JP Hayes, whose 64 yesterday equalled the course record.

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