Tiger Woods' coach Sean Foley urges calm after horror round of 79
Tiger Woods flies to Dubai today with his coach urging the golfing world not to read too much into the world No 1‘s extraordinary implosion at one of his favourite venues.
Woods has won at Torrey Pines eight times, including the 2008 US Open with a broken leg. But in a stunning turnaround, Woods missed the Saturday cut of the Farmers Insurance Open thanks to him equalling the second worst score of his professional career.
His 79 had Nick Faldo calling him “very rusty” after a six-week break, while Brandel Chamblee, one of Woods’ most vocal critics, commented that his swing was so short it looked like that “of a 55-year-old man”. Jhonattan Vegas played with Woods during the third-round 79 and said “I’ve never seen him play like that”.
In truth, nobody had. Not at Torrey Pines anyway. Woods won there last year by four shots, but this time around had to hole a 10-footer on the last to ensure that he did not fail to break 80 for only the second time in his career. At the 2002 Open at Muirfield, Woods shot an 81. The weather that day was awful. The conditions at Torrey were ideal, which made his collapse that much more surprising.
Woods made two double bogeys in a row and reeled off five consecutive bogeys. The rough is thick at the San Diego layout - probably, too thick - but the fact he failed to make a single birdie on the par fives all week pointed to the wretchedness of his form. He scraped through the initial cut on Friday, yet with a secondary cut necessitated by 81 players making it through to the weekend, Woods was on his way home on six-over. Only the club professional, Michael Block was below him.
Inevitably, sections of social media greeted the 79 with hysteria, but Sean Foley was not about to press the panic button. “It’s just three days in a long year,” Woods’s coach told Fox Sports. “I like what I’m seeing in practice, so we’ll just continue working and see where it takes us.”
It is worth noting that Woods missed the cut in his opening event last year - and after the Abu Dhabi flop, Woods flew to Torrey Pines and won. He will now attempt to do the reverse at the Desert Classic, where he will face a field including Rory McIlroy, the Ulsterman who fared rather better on his seasonal bow when finishing runner-up in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.
In Woods’s absence, the Farmers Insurance Open featured Gary Woodland taking a one-shot lead into the final round over his fellow American Jordan Spieth and the Australian Marc Leishman. Ian Poulter was five behind on three-under.