FARMINGDALE, N.Y. Tiger Woods looked off from the very first hole of the PGA Championship. After shooting 3-over 73 to miss the cut Friday evening at Bethpage, he still pointed to the scoreboard.
You know, Im the Masters champion at 43 years old, and thats a pretty good accomplishment, Woods said.
In some ways, his 5-over 145 and lack of juice from the get-go just further illustrated how special the 2019 Masters was and always will be. The moment was so big that, in hindsight, it was unreasonable to think Woods could get up for another major so soon after it ended.
Woods hit just 3 of 14 fairways in Round 2 and still had a chance to make the cut at the last hole. He finally put himself in a good spot off the tee, leaving just 113 yards for a potential birdie to get back to 4 over and secure a Saturday tee time.
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BACK: Jordan Spieth's 66 signals slump is over
It was almost unfathomable to think he wouldnt make birdie from that spot with a sand wedge in his hands. Thats just what Woods does when hes in danger of missing the cut. A mere par seemed laughable.
Then Woods came out of his swing and missed well short of the green and reminded us that there are no certainties in life or golf.
He chipped it to 5 feet for a closing par and trudged up a crosswalk toward the scoring area.
Brooks Koepka was right behind him having just set a new 36-hole major scoring record, but the fans were still chanting Woods name.
You know, Ive so enjoyed being the Masters champion again and the PGA was a quick turnaround, and unfortunately I just didnt play well, Woods said. I didnt do all the little things I need to do correctly to post good scores and put myself in position to shoot good scores.
Woods smiled often throughout a six-minute media session, more than usual after a week like this. Same goes for caddie Joe LaCava ahead of an unexpected Friday night drive back to his home in Connecticut.
There was obvious disappointment because these guys are true competitors and didnt come here to birdwatch. It was also unusual territory, Woods first missed cut since the 2018 U.S. Open and ninth all-time at a major. It was also the first time hes ever missed the cut at a major after winning the one that proceeded it.
The bottom line is that this course demands precision off the tee and Woods just didnt have it.
It wasnt like he drove it all over the map, but miss the fairway by six or eight feet and youre in trouble here, LaCava said. It wasnt like we drove it awful. So Im not worried about that. Whenever the next tournament is, if we got to (the Memorial) well be fine there and well be fine at (the U.S. Open) at Pebble.
Koepka, meanwhile, drove the ball wherever he wanted to. Launched it high and straight off the tee to set up a golf course all his own. This is one of the longest, most difficult, major venues in the country, and Koepka looked like he was playing a practice round at the John Deere Classic.
Whereas Woods opened with a double bogey at the par-4 10th hole Thursday, Koepka dropped a 40-footer for birdie and hasnt slowed down. He holds a seven-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott and his 128 total is the lowest 36-hole score in major championship history.
Hes got 9 irons when most of us are hitting 5 irons and 4 irons, and hes putting well, Woods said. That adds up to a pretty substantial lead, and if he keeps doing what hes doing theres no reason why he cant build on this lead & you know, relative to the field, I was about that long early in my career.
Woods doesnt have that distance advantage anymore, but hes still the best irons player on Tour. He just didnt give himself enough chances to show that this week and spent too much time in Bethpage Blacks unforgivable rough.
Woods saw the whole course last week and played nine practice holes Monday, but that was the last of his on-course prep. He wasnt feeling great and decided hed rather rest than force the issue, though he didnt think that was the reason for the early exit.
I just made too many mistakes and just didnt do the little things I need to do, Woods said. You know, I had a couple three-putts. I didnt hit any fairways today. Did a lot of little things wrong.
It was only Woods 19th missed cut on Tour as a professional. For comparisons sake, Koepka already has 18. But he was 17 shots better than Woods in Rounds 1 & 2 and well on his way to major No. 4.
Woods was on his way back home still fresh off major No. 15. He didnt seem too discouraged. Matching the physical and emotional peaks he achieved at Augusta will always be a tall order. He wasnt up for it at Bethpage, but the end result might help push him back in that direction.
I wouldnt consider it a setback, but certainly frustrating and disappointing, LaCava said. & I think if anything he might work even harder now.