But now, with Woods missing the cut at the British Open after posting a two-day score of six-over par, his best days look so far away that they might as well have been 50 years ago on the moon.
Woods, who was undone by the return of his ever-present back problems, was dejected, saying at a news conference Friday, “I just want to go home.”
— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) July 19, 2019
“I just want some time off just to get away from it,” Woods said, per ESPN. “I had a long trip to Thailand [for a family vacation after the U.S. Open], and then trying to get ready for this event, to play this event, it’s been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around and different hotels and everything. I just want to go home.”
Home for Woods is Jupiter Island, Florida, where his neighbors include the likes of Bill Gates.
Woods will skip the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational next week and is not expected to play competitively until the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August.
Indeed, since winning the Masters, Woods’ schedule has been limited, as he has played in just four tournaments, per ESPN, failing to impress in any of them.
Despite being ranked No. 5 in the world, Woods has missed the cut at two of the majors he didn’t win, his ranking a standing testament to the feast-or-famine golfer he has become.
Perhaps most surprising, considering the shots on which Woods built his reputation, he was 2-over par on the six par-5 holes he played at Royal Portrush, a far cry from the days when Woods made par-5s look like mini-golf holes.
Woods even seemed to acknowledge that newfound shortcoming as the monster of his own making finally turned on its creator.
“I kind of grinded my way around the golf course today,” he said Friday. “I had a chance to get it back to even par for the tournament. I didn’t handle the par-5s well. I was in perfect position on all three of them. If I handled those par-5s well, I would be right there.”
As for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Woods took second 2018, playing the Rams to Justin Rose’s Patriots as the runner-up on the biggest stage.
Despite his world golf ranking, however, you can only earn so many points with even a major win in the grind-it-out world of the long PGA Tour season, and Woods will enter the playoffs seeded 23rd, minus whatever ground he loses to those behind him playing well in the remaining events.
Woods will have to perform well at Liberty National in New Jersey on Aug. 8 and at Medina in Illinois a week later to give himself a chance to play in the final tournament, like he did last year.
Woods, however, seems cautiously optimistic about his abilities.
“I just have to continue doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I’ve gotten so much stronger over the past year working with my physios and trying to get my body organized so that I can play at a high level. It panned out; I won a major championship this year.”
“It’s just a matter of being consistent. That’s one of the hardest things to accept as an older athlete is that you’re not going to be as consistent as you were at 23. Things are different. And I’m going to have my hot weeks. I’m going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments.”
“But there are times when I’m just not going to be there,” he added. “And that wasn’t the case 20-some-odd years ago. I had a different body, and I was able to be a little bit more consistent.”
Have we finally seen the end of Woods as a competitive force on the PGA Tour?
Maybe, but a lot of writers have written that line before, only to be proven wrong.
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