After sputtering to a 3-over 75 in Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods essentially conceded his woeful year had run out of gas.
"The season is pretty much over pretty soon," Woods said after posting five bogeys and two birdies, and leaving the course nine shots back of 18-hole leader Dustin Johnson.
With a third straight missed cut in the majors looming, Woods will need to summon heroics of his glory days just to make it to the weekend, let alone have a chance of extending his 2015 campaign into the postseason. More likely than working his way into contention and qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs, though, is another early exit for the four-time PGA champ, who ended his day in a 16-way tie for 86th at Whistling Straits.
Tiger. Donesky. Again.— Rob Sievers (@SportsEsquire) August 13, 2015
Back-to-back MCs at the U.S. and British Opens -- the first time in his career he bowed out of two consecutive grand slam events -- epitomized Woods’ season of "worsts ever." His year has featured problems with his short game and driver, but Thursday it was the flat stick that gave Tiger fits.
"Probably one of the worst putting rounds I’ve had in a very long time," said Woods, who needed 33 swats on the greens to get to an eye-popping 27-over in his last six major championship rounds.
Tiger Woods (75 today) in majors as a pro: 1997-2009: -134 2010-2013: +8 2014-2015: +33 #PGAChamp— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 13, 2015
Woods had bogeyed eight of his last 10 opening holes (dating back to last year’s PGA), so getting off to a par-par-par star was satisfactory. Except that his first three (Nos. 10-12) were the easiest holes on the course and the wheels began to wobble in a round in which Tiger found just seven fairways and 12 greens and made the turn at 1-over 37.
Multiple opportunities to go low presented themselves, as Woods was proficient off the tee. He simply could not capitalize, as coming away with just one birdie and a bogey after hitting his first seven greens in regulation illustrated.
Woods, who contended he "hit it great today," said he failed to adapt to the pace of the putting surfaces.
Tiger postgame: "I hit it great today" and "I had complete control of the golf ball." Whose game is he talking about? He shot 75.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) August 13, 2015
"Even if I dumped the ball in the center of the green or I had some makeable putts straight up the gut, they were still off," he said. "They were either getting chewed up by the green or I was blowing them through. I definitely need to somehow find the speed better."
It was more than just the greens that did Woods in on a day that was ripe for scoring. He continually came up short or off-target, like when a weak iron off the 18th fairway after a 294-yard drive landed in a green-fronting bunker and Tiger was unable to get up and down.
Woods, whose miserable chipping efforts to start the year were well-chronicled, seems to be playing whack-a-mole once he takes his game from the range to the course. As soon as he fixes one problem, another pops up.
"I've had good putting rounds and I had ball-striking days on those days, and then the flip side of it," he said, aptly describing his year-to-date. "So, just got to get a combo right and then have it for three more days."
If Woods’ recent history in major events is any indication, he’ll have just one more day to "get the combo right." Indeed, Tiger fans probably want to catch his second round on Friday afternoon since that’s likely the last time they’ll get to watch their man compete for a while.
Even with such a stark reality facing him, Woods claimed there were plenty of days left in 2015 to work on his game.
"The year’s not [over]," he said. "I still can do things overseas, still have our next season is starting up next year. I have my tournament down in the Bahamas.
"There's plenty of golf to be played globally," reasoned Woods, whose next competitive round would likely be at the PGA Tour’s season-opening Frys.com Open in October. "So the season's, it is what it is, but calendar year I still have a lot of golf left."
Woods, who has a 2:30 p.m. ET date off the first tee on Friday with Martin Kaymer and Keegan Bradley, has committed to play in the Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup in Mexico in October. He also received an exemption into December’s Hero World Challenge, a tournament he hosts.