Tiger Woods may be favored to win next month’s British Open by the same blokes who picked him to end his five-year major-less drought at last week’s U.S. Open, but the world No. 1 may want to familiarize himself with the Muirfield greens if he hopes to have a chance to pick up his 15th major.
At least, that’s what Tiger's former coach Hank Haney suggested via Twitter Sunday morning, before his erstwhile pupil put the finishing touches on his highest score in relation to par (13-over) as a professional:
Lack of preparation, tropical storm in Fla last week rain at Merion Mon-W RT @tighearnan1:where do u think it went wrong this week for tiger— Hank Haney (@HankDHaney) June 16, 2013
While the stats may say otherwise (70 percent of fairways and 65 percent of greens hit in regulation), Woods struggled with every aspect of his game. Twenty bogeys and a triple will attest to that.
"It wasn't as sharp as I'd like,'' he told reporters Sunday after posting a dismal 4-over 74 (a day after shooting an eye-popping 76). "I hit the ... correct distances most of the time, but they weren't in the correct areas that I'd like to have. I was trying to hit the ball in certain spots, give myself uphill looks on some other putts, but I didn't quite do that.”
That’s for sure. It was in his short game and on the putting surfaces where Woods lost the chance to contend. When the best player in the world needs 128 putts (an average of 32 per day), it’s clear that there’s a big miss somewhere.
Woods conceded as much, noting that he never figured out the pace of the tricky, undulating greens at Merion Golf Club.
“I struggled with the speed all week,” he said. “I struggled with the speed, 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.”
Back to Haney:
I watched it for 6 yrs, I question Tiger's preparation, he doesn't practice his putting or short game enough on site at unfamiliar courses— Hank Haney (@HankDHaney) June 16, 2013
Woods said he learns something in “every tournament whether you win or lose.”
Perhaps one of those lessons will be to get in more of his famous reps at Muirfield than he did at Merion. Woods had never played the cozy confines of the 6,996-yard layout until a couple of weeks before the tournament and torrential downpours washed out some pre-event practice rounds.
Despite the lack of turns around the track, Woods was confident that he had done his homework.
“I came up on Tuesday of Memorial and it was rainy, the ball wasn’t flying very far,” Woods said two days before the championship began. “I’m hitting the ball to the same spots now because it’s rained and it’s soft. ... It’s going to be the same that we played on Tuesday.”
While Tiger played Muirfield in a major as a pro, that was in the 2002 Open Championship, he carded a third-round 81 in wretched conditions. Were Haney still in the employ of Team Tiger, he would likely advise his boss to take a long advance-scouting trip to the Scottish Isles well before July 18.