And so the twisting tale of the Turnberry Open continues: the oldest player in the tournament is leading, the best player is going home…
There was more than a tinge of dejection around the 18th green yesterday when Tiger Woods fired his approach through the back. The sadness that the game’s greatest would not be challenging far outweighed the story that he was heading for the exit door.
Even with an-almost impossible chip needing to be holed, nothing is beyond the man and as such the ring of snappers and scribes expected the unexpected not to happen – that was Woods to avoid missing the cut in a Major tournament for only the third time.
For Woods, this errant Open signals a continuation of what has been a mixed bag since his return to action following that nine-month layoff for reconstructive knee surgery. But how on earth can we be critical of his form? Three wins in little over four months is an outstanding return, but standards are so high that for Woods and his faithful believers, that simply will not do.
At Augusta he was blunt for three days and only came alive in a head-to-head tussle with Phil Mickleson, while at Bethpage he played another supporting role; never out of it, never in it; he kept the galleries interested simply because he was there.
Here at Turnberry, he just never looked like threatening. Following him briefly yesterday proved just that; his body language is off key and some self-belief seems to have been lost.
Hazeltine and the USPGA offers another step towards that magical number of 18 Majors laid down by Jack Nicklaus. It’s a record he will surely pass and Hazeltine is a golf course that he could destroy as he aims to put to bed the memory of his stunning defeat to Rich Beem there seven years ago.
Interestingly, that loss preceded Woods’ worst run in Major Championships as a professional, where he failed to win again until that famous chip rolled in at Augusta in 2005.
You wouldn’t bet on such a baron spell again, but then again, you wouldn’t have bet on this happening either…