Tiger does nothing right and too much wrong

By Art Spander

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — This wasn’t progress. This was regress. This was agony. This was Tiger Woods making bogies with the consistency he once made birdies and making us wonder, really, if he’ll ever be a shadow of the man who once owned golf.

Here at Riviera Country Club, where legends played, where Ben Hogan and Tom Watson won, where Humphrey Bogart and Dean Martin belonged. Where at 17 Tiger made his debut in a pro tournament.

Where Friday, in the second round of the Genesis Open, neé the Los Angeles Open, Woods figuratively couldn’t do a thing right and did far too much wrong.

A beautiful day in southern California, sunshine, blue skies. A beautiful day unless you were Tiger Woods — who grew up nearby — or his faithful fans, who hadn’t given up hope but, after his second round in the Genesis, may change their minds.

Woods shot a five-over par 76. He had eight bogies — six in a stretch of eight holes, the sixth through the 13th— and only three bogies. He finished with a 36-hole total of 148, six over par and four above the cut line.

The final two rounds of the Genesis will be played without Tiger, who in his post-round comments only emphasized the obvious, saying, “I didn’t really play that well today.” No, he didn’t.

Yes, it was only 18 holes out of a wonderful career, and he missed weeks because of his back injury before coming back at the end of 2016. But it was a sad exhibition, one reminiscent of the performances of Willie Mays and Joe Namath, Hall of Famers, near the end of their playing days.

Golf isn’t baseball or football. You can play seemingly forever. But rare is the person who can continue to play well. Woods is 42, a critical age, especially for someone attempting a comeback. He said his body at least is healthy, pain-free. But the years might prove insurmountable.

Woods was 13 shots behind the tri-leaders, Patrick Cantlay, the one-time UCLA star; Graeme McDowell, who won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach; and Sam Saunders, who is Arnold Palmer’s grandson. They’ll have to be the attractions for the final two rounds.

Tiger? He announced Thursday he would enter next week’s Honda Classic, when the PGA Tour shifts from the West Coast to Florida and maybe Woods will advance. Or maybe he won’t.

“I missed every tee shot, and I did not putt well,” Woods said about Friday. “Didn’t feel very good on the greens and consequently never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on the back side, and I went the other way.”

He’s not tournament-ready. Practicing at home in Florida is different than competing in an event in California. Two weeks ago, to his credit, Woods finished 23rd at the Farmers Open in San Diego. But he had won there eight times over years. Riviera is one of the few courses he’s played frequently where he’s never won.

“The game speed amped up is so different from playing at home," he said. "I’ve got to play more tournaments.”

And spend more time playing them. The Genesis was only the 17th tournament in which he failed to make the cut in a pro career that started in 1997, but for a while he went months without missing a cut.

“One of the hallmarks of my whole career is I’ve always hit the ball high with my iron shots, and I have not done that" Woods said. "I think the whole week has been very successful for (the Tiger Woods) foundation, as a tournament.

“Unfortunately I’m just not able to play on the weekend.”

Unfortunate for him. Unfortunate for the Genesis. Unfortunate for CBS-TV, which would have had big ratings with Tiger on the tube. People are curious anytime he plays.

“I haven’t played golf in years,” said Woods. “I’m starting to come back, and it’s going to take a little time.”

Or perhaps more time than he has.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Bubba‘s World: NBA celebrity games, great golf at Riviera | Main | Tiger needs something impressive to make cut »