SHEBOYGAN, Wis.—At this point, the only person who seems to be surprised when Tiger Woods doesn’t play well is. . . Tiger Woods.
“I hit it good enough to be where I needed to be, but I putted awful,’’ Woods said Saturday after finishing up a second-round 73. That followed an opening 75. And that meant Woods missed the cut by two shots at the PGA championship at Whistling Straits.
This is the fourth missed cut in his last five majors for the once-dominant Woods, who has been stuck on 14 majors since 2008.
“The confidence is growing quickly,’’ said Woods, indicating he’s overcoming injury troubles and merely needs to build consistency. “That’s the fun part. I’m hitting shots and able to hit shots that I haven’t been able to hit in years, and that’s nice. And to have the control I need to have going forward, it’s starting to come back, which is nice.’’
Just make some putts and be more consistent?
Does Tiger really believe this?
He seemed to underscore the point by committing to the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., next week. Woods would need to either win or finish second to qualify for the FedExCup playoffs. But he would gain reps, either way.
The trouble is, his agent, Mark Steinberg, later said Woods was merely complying with the Friday entry deadline and will decide in the next few days whether he’ll actually play in the Wyndham.
How the mighty have fallen.
Woods keeps saying he needs to play more to improve. But then, he doesn’t play more.
Here’s an idea: What Woods really ought to do is put down his golf clubs and go clear his head.
No question, injuries have taken their toll. But his inability to win a major tournament since the 2008 U.S. Open seems to be on his mind every time he takes a club back, and for good reason.
At 39, his body clock is ticking, and for good reason. At his age, and with his injury history, time is running out. But the mental side is weighing too heavily.
After missing a five-foot par putt on his third hole of this tournament, Woods walked down the fourth fairway muttering, “How f—- bad am I putting?’’ loud enough for reporters to hear.
He was three holes into the tournament—and 1-over par.
This is a player who not only has lost the consistent physical edge that allowed him to be one of golf’s most dominant players for more than a decade. The mental fierceness that used to intimidate is now a fragile shell of its former self.
His absence is not necessarily a bad thing for the game.
While Woods has been wobbly, Rory McIlroy, who was supposed to be the next great golfer, has had to adjust to Jordan Spieth playing remarkable golf.
McIlroy, 26, won last year’s British Open and PGA, giving him four major championships. Spieth,22 then dazzled by winning the first two majors of this season.
Golf’s future is in good hands.
“I’m not surprised the narrative has went from me to Jordan,’’ McIlroy said. “We live in a world [where] everything happens so quickly. A year ago, it was the Rory era, and then it’s the Jordan era. Eras last about six months these days instead of 20 years. With social media and everything having to be instant, it’s the world we live in.
Tell it to Tiger.