CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, (Reuters) – Another side of Tiger Woods was unveiled to the golfing world yesterday. And just like the last time, it was shocking to see.
The private life of the world’s richest sportsman had already been laid bare by the sordid revelations of his extra-marital affairs. Now his golf game is facing examination.
It is too early to say what, if any, effect his personal troubles will have on his game but Woods ensured those questions would be asked after a rare inept performance at the Quail Hollow championship yesterday.
Woods missed the cut for only the sixth time in his professional career after rounds of 74 and 79. That alone should be no real cause for concern but it was the manner of his early exit that was most alarming.
By his own incredible standards, this was a train crash the golfing world never expected to see. Woods looked like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders but insisted the distractions in his private life were not to blame.
“Does it test you? Yes, of course it does,” he told reporters.
“Is that any excuse? No, because I’m out there and I have the same opportunity as everybody else here in this field to shoot a good number, and I didn’t do that.”
Golf is a game that revolves around numbers and Wood’s numbers were not impressive. At times, he looked like any weekend hacker.
It was just the sixth time in 241 professional appearances that he missed the cut. His second round of 79 was the second worst of his pro career, two behind the 81 he shot at the 2002 British Open.
Woods took 43 shots to complete the back nine yesterday. This did match his worst-ever record. For the first time in nearly three years he made double bogeys on successive holes.
“It does bother me, no doubt,” he said.
“But at least I get the weekend to watch and see how it’s done, how real players play golf.”
Woods was appearing in only his second tournament since coming out of his self-imposed five-month exile. No-one really expected him to start winning tournaments straight away, but even less thought he would implode as he did yesterday after finishing fourth at the US Masters.
There were ominous signs after he shot 74 on the first day and he struggled to get through his first nine holes yesterday level with the card, spoiling three birdies with three bogeys.
What unfolded on the back nine was like watching a man bleed on the course. Woods bogeyed the 10th, 11th and 12th holes to suddenly drop back to five-over-par. He stopped the rot with a par at the 13th before making a double-bogey at the 14th when he pitched over the green and into the water.
Worse was to come at the next hole when he four-putted for another double bogey. He closed with three pars to avoid shooting an embarrassing 80 but that failed to save him from having to pack his bags and head back home.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t good enough.”