Tiger Woods got off to a painful start at the U.S. Open in June when he re-injured his elbow during the rain-delayed first round at Merion Golf Club. Then things went from bad to off the charts on the misery scale for the world No. 1.
Woods proceeded from an opening 3-over 73 to card his worst score in the Open as a professional, a 76, on Saturday. That extremely crooked number led to Tiger’s highest 54-hole Open total (9-over 219), as well as his worst week as a pro in any major.
"He needed to do three things to play well," Frank Nobilo said after Woods’ disappointing Thursday, which was just a prelude to a wretched week. "Had to drive the ball well, had to wedge it well, had to putt well. Three-putted two greens, didn’t really wedge it close, and hit the ball too many times out of the hay."
Woods began moving day heading in the right direction, with a birdie on the first. He then scuffled his way around the tough, tight track like a guy with a faulty flipper, posting seven bogeys, including three in his first six holes and one on the last.
NBC’s Johnny Miller pronounced last rites on Woods’ shot at attaining the 15th major that’s eluded him since he won the 2008 national championship on a broken leg. "His chances for this U.S. Open are toast," Miller stated on Saturday.
Tiger's short game was a mess all weekend. There were poor chips onto Merion's putting surfaces:
And there was the disastrous work with the flatstick, from all ranges, including bunnies like this:
The putting even left girlfriend Lindsey Vonn forlorn when Woods missed one last jab before his round mercifully came to an end on the 18th green:
For emphasis, Woods posted a triple-bogey eight on the par-5 second hole of Sunday’s finale on his way to running up his worst score in relation to par (13-over 293) since he turned pro. While he found 70 percent of Merion’s fairways and 65 percent of the greens in regulation for the week, Woods, who led the tour in putting two weeks earlier, would blame his flatstick for many of his Open woes.
"I struggled with the speed all week," said Woods, who needed 128 putts over four dismal days. "Especially right around the hole, putts were breaking a lot more; I gave it a little more break and then it would hang.
"That's kind of the way it was this week," said Woods, who closed out in a tie for 39th for his worst finish to any U.S. Open after making the cut.
"Those," Miller helpfully observed, "are the wrong kind of records he wants to have."