Painful to watch Woods hit rock bottom

  • in Golf

We kow all about how the mighty fall but whoever imagined one of their number would fall quite so far as poor Tiger Woods did at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village?

Golf is supposed to be the game where its great champions fade away quietly but Woods’s brutal humiliation could hardly have been more complete had he been placed in the stocks and people thrown rotten fruit at him.

This is Jack Nicklaus’s tournament, and how symbolic it all felt over the years as Woods became accustomed to shaking the great man’s hand as he walked off the 18th green a winner once more. He was the five-time champion and the man with the best scoring average in the tournament’s rich history.

And then came last weekend. ‘This is a lonely sport,’ said Woods after he had finished last by eight strokes, his excruciating ordeal mercifully complete. ‘You just have to deal with it.’

Yet how does he do that? The meat of the season is almost upon us and Woods is heading into the period of three majors staged in nine weeks with his game in disarray, his confidence shattered and his mind filled with a raging noise that all points in the same direction: how on earth has it come to this?

‘We have moments where we go backwards sometimes,’ he said.

Goodness, you can say that again. Make no mistake, Saturday’s 85 was not simply the most shocking round of his career but one with no other remotely in the same vicinity. This is the man who only shot one score worse than 80 in his first 1,107 rounds as a pro, and that was during a tempest at Muirfield. When he shot a career-worst 82 in Phoenix in February, most of it was down to a clear dose of the chipping yips.

Here, every vestige of the greatest player of this and all but one other generation was stripped away.The sight of him running up a quadruple-bogey eight at the 18th hole, his brain shutting down and clearly unable to cope, was the saddest thing you will see on a course all year.

And still the punishment went on. Because an odd number of players made the cut, he had to play on his own yesterday for the first time in a regular tour event.

After that 81 at Muirfield, Woods followed it with a 65 and for a few blessed holes in the middle of this round there looked as if there might be a similarly defiant riposte in the sixties, but two double bogeys in the last four holes meant a 74. For the first time in his career, Woods had run up six double bogeys or worse in the same tournament.

What now? If he’s still got the appetite for the fight, he simply has to play more competitive golf. At the Masters, in his first tournament for 10 weeks, he finished inside the top 20. Wouldn’t you want to build on that encouraging result? Bizarrely, this was just his second event since Augusta. As for the tournament host, he offered some cogent thoughts. ‘Tiger is running from teacher to teacher but I think he needs to go back and review some of his own things rather than listen to somebody else,’ said Nicklaus.

Woods had long left the property before third-round pacemaker Justin Rose had arrived. The Englishman, seeking his second PGA Tour victory in as many months, began with a three-stroke advantage over Italian Francesco Molinari.

The general expectation was for Rose to stamp his authority on proceedings early but, in fact, the opposite happened. A three-stroke lead became a three-stroke deficit after eight holes as Rose made a nervous start and Molinari grabbed three birdies. A much-needed birdie at the ninth enabled Rose to cut Molinari’s lead to two and it was back to one when the latter bogeyed the 10th then the pair were level on 14 under par when Rose birdied 11.

Earlier, Masters champion Jordan Spieth electrified the galleries with a brilliant 65 to set a clubhouse target of 13 under. – Daily Mail

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