Head down and gait wounded, Tiger Woods dashed out of
Atlanta Athletic Club last night, and into some sort of wilderness. His spectacular
failure to make the cut at the 93rd US PGA Championship - an event he has won four times - means he will have
time away from the public glare to try to restore his game to the fearsome
state that once reduced such courses and fields to rubble.
Woods has failed to qualify for the US Tour's lucrative
FedEx Cup play-off series which signals an enforced six-week absence from the
game. The next tournament on Woods's intinerary is the Australian Open in November. Tiger may be set for an extended period of hibernation which will hardly have sponsors and television executives scrambling to get the bunting out.
There was more than Georgia on his mind. He has weightier issues than his playing schedule to wrestle with after worrying weaknesses in his swing were exposed by a lengthy circuit that gives short shrift to wayward hitters. After leg and ankle injuries,
this was more a false start than a glorious return to Tiger's natural domain.
Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gone with
the Wind was set in the state of Georgia, and published around the time of the
Great Depression in 1930s America. Woods cut a figure of great depression
Woods was gone with no wind on another brutally hot and
sweaty day in America's Deep South. And few relevant excuses, either. Quite
simply, Tiger was rotten for two days. He hit 20 bunkers over 36 holes, winding
down on the 18th hole with a trademark bogey after another visit to sand and
water. It was irritating stuff in such irritable conditions.
In 100-degree temperatures, he missed the cut by six strokes. 150 blows to get it round over two days says enough. It was his first missed cut at a US PGA. It was only the third time he had failed to make the weekend at a Major after falling down at the 2006 US Open and the British Open two years ago. Woods has 14 majors to his name, but Jack Nicklaus's record haul of 18 suddenly looking an awfully long way away.
Whatever is made of Tiger's travails, he remains highly
watchable, even when he toils. This is a figure who impresses and struggles in
some style. He could never be accused of doing things by half measures.
Tiger's scorecard resembled a number from the local Atlanta
telephone directory as some largish figures buried his hopes of being around
for the final two days. Starting at seven-over par, Woods opened with four
straight pars before the old wounds from his opening 77 returned to scar his
Bogeys at five and seven were cancelled out by birdies on
eight and nine before dreadful double bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes buried
him alive in the sands that had devoured him. After taking in two lakes and 12
bunkers in the first round, a 73 on the second day was never going to save him.
"Where shall I go? What shall I do?," Tiger could
easily have asked in the role of Gone with the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," Woods's scorned caddie Steve
Williams could have retorted as a modern day Rhett Butler.
While Tiger was playing like a man wearing a blindfold, Adam
Scott, William's new leading man, was carrying the fight to the competition.
Having won the Bridgestone Invitational last week, Australian Scott is pursuing
his first major moment in Atlanta. At two-under par, he is only three behind
the leaders. No disrespect, but the leading group of Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley are not going to send shivers down the spine of the chasing pack. These are not those Tiger-fearing days of old. Game on, as they say.
"It is frustrating and disappointing that I am not
continuing in the tournament," said Woods. "I showed signs that I can
hit the ball, but I did not do it enough times."
At least Woods was in the very best of company with
defending champion Martin Kaymer among the heaving names to leave the season's
closing major two days ahead of scheduled departure. That will mean little to
Woods. The second day of this tournament will forever be recalled as his
poorest showing in such an event. It was achieved by some margin.
Silly comment of the
If caddies are so important, why do they not pick up a club
and play professionally? Steve Williams's comments after Adam Scott won the
Bridgestone Invitational were laughable and outrageous. He was more emotional
than Scott, which was embarrassing. Caddies only benefit from someone else's
talent. The ones who are on the bag of individuals like Tiger Woods are
Not that Williams and his massive ego would appreciate such
good fortune after his withering attack on Woods, and his longing to bite the hand that fed him. With this in
mind, BM was left scratching his head when Colin Montgomerie - working as a
pundit for satellite TV - seemed to suggest that Woods's struggle here was down
to a lack of a good bagman. "I don't think you can win with a poor
one," said Montgomerie amid a couple of nonsensical sentences.
Sorry Monty, but you could have trained a monkey to carry
Tiger's bag in his pomp and he would have won. 20 bunkers and plenty of balls
in the drink over two days had nothing to do with the caddie. When he wins
again, it will have little to do with the person who is carrying his bag.
Shot of the day
Jim Furyk chipped in at the par-3 17th hole to move to four-under par
and one off the lead. It was a quite superb birdie from the 2003 US Open champion, and a shot indicative of a
quality day as Furyk posted a 65 to lie a solitary stroke off the lead. Good
John Daly outfit of
As expected, John Daly will not be around for the weekend
after he missed the cut by several strokes, but his commitment to garish garb
lives on among others. We think this little 'cowboy' number, as sported by Rory
Sabbatini - who is handily placed at two-over par - speaks for itself. Let us
hope Rory has a colourful weekend.
- Tiger Woods