Tiger Woods can look on the bright side of his failure to make it to the weekend at the Waste Management Phoenix Open -- he won’t have to fight the mobs to get to the Super Bowl on Sunday.
That’s because Woods, making his first start of 2015 after a miserable 2014 season, and appearing as the main attraction at this week’s PGA Tour stop, picked up where he left off at the PGA Championship in August and missed the cut.
By a mile — or by about as much as he missed most of the fairways with his driver and greens with his wedges at TPC Scottsdale, on his way to a career-worst 18-hole score of 82.
And as if his 11-over second-round tally (13-over for the week and anchoring the bottom of the leader board when he finished in the morning wave) were not bad enough, the MC marked the first time in his career that the fading superstar failed to get to the weekend in two straight starts. (Woods tied for last in December’s Hero World Challenge, an unofficial tour event with no cut.) The final career-worst card from Friday (via PGA Tour):
After carding a 44 on his first nine, his 10-over par for the tourney put him in danger of reaching another "worst-ever." The only other time in his career Woods had topped 80 was when he shot a third-round 81 in severely blustery conditions at the 2002 British Open. Another bladed chip shot and another double, on the par-3 fourth, and Tiger was DFL and flailing toward the history books.
Woods may try to put a positive spin on things, as is his habit, but there really was no way to pretty this up; on a wet and raw day at the zoo, it was ugly out there for the 47th-ranked (and plummeting fast) golfer in the world.
With an unplayable lie leading to a double-bogey on No. 14, a water-logged triple bogey-8 at the next, and two more bogeys before the turn, it was even uglier than Thursday’s "piggish" 2-over 73.
"You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig," Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser said Thursday night, "and this round was a little bit piggish."
I have watched a lot of bizarrely poor rounds from our man in the last year or so. Not sure I've seen anything quite like this.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) January 30, 2015
Woods, who started on the 10th hole, put up some truly unbelievable numbers that had pundits scrambling for the record books. This is what it looked like for Tiger’s outgoing nine, in which he matched his highest half-round score as a professional and after which he had sole possession of last place:
Tiger's opening-nine stats: Scrambling: 1/6 Fairways: 3/7 Greens: 3/9 Putts: 14 8-over 44 pic.twitter.com/XPcG8qnc7R— PGA TOUR Now (@PGATOURNow) January 30, 2015
Woods, who chunked nine chip shots at last month’s World Challenge, continued to struggle with his short game.
"I hate to say it, but I think the greatest player that I’ve ever seen has the yips," Oberholser said on Thursday. "Whether that’s because of a release pattern or whether it’s not enough reps, it’s flat out the disease. He’s got the yips."
Oberholser’s GC colleague and constant Tiger critic, Brandel Chamblee, was, as always, more direct. Woods’ first-round chipping efforts were flat out "the worst I’ve ever seen a tour pro around the greens and it is a long way from there to playing competitive golf again," he said.
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With fresh meat to chew on, the constant Tiger critic was sharpening his knives.
"He didn't struggle. He was incapable of hitting short shots. That's not struggling. Struggling is when you shoot 73 and miss six greens and you hit your chips 10 feet from the hole. He was incapable of doing the most pedestrian of requirements at the highest level. Incapable," Chamblee said as Woods scuffled to the end of his stay at Scottsdale with a bogey on No. 9. "You cannot play out here on the PGA Tour, you can't keep your card with the chipping yips."
Woods, with as toothless an effort as he had last year, when he posted three MCs and two withdrawals in just eight injury-riddled tour events, has just a bit of work to do before April 9.
Tiger will try to put more bite into his game at his next scheduled stop, next week’s Farmers Insurance open at Torrey Pines. While it’s one of his favorite venues, having yielded eight wins to him in his career, it’s also the place where Tiger last year shot a third-round 79 and missed his first-ever 54-hole cut.
For the record, though he cracked a Marshawn Lynch joke to open his post-round press conference ("I'm only doing this so I won't get fined"), Woods said he would bypass the Super Bowl in favor of practice.
"I'm going home right now," he said. "I'm going home right now."
Strange and historic for the former world No. 1.