Tiger Woods’ latest comeback was one of the top sports stories of the weekend.
The former No. 1-ranked golfer in the world played in his first full-field PGA Tour event in a year following his fourth, and most serious surgery, to have his back fused.
After whetting the golf world’s appetite with a decent showing at the Hero World Challenge in December, Woods returned this weekend to a very familiar venue: the Farmer’s Insurance Open at one of Woods’ favorite courses, Torrey Pines, in San Diego.
Woods was never near the top of the leaderboard all weekend, but he did make the cut on Friday and drew huge throngs of people to watch him play all 72 holes over the course of four days.
That’s all good.
What’s not good is when that excitement interferes with the actual play.
It happened Sunday on the 13th hole, where Woods hit a beautiful approach shot to set up a seemingly easy birdie, which would move him to 4-under par.
But as Woods pulled back his putter to tap in for birdie, someone in the gallery yelled the always dreaded, “Get in the hole!”
some idiot just yelled in Tiger's backswing. Totally ridiculous. Uncalled for. pic.twitter.com/HA7fbWD393
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 28, 2018
It’s obvious the shout distracted Woods. He shortened his follow-through, and pushed the putt to the right.
Woods tapped in for par, but it was a missed opportunity.
Give credit to the other fans, who called for the offender to be thrown out of the tournament.
Also, give credit to Woods, who has been known to have a bit of a short temper in situations like this, but kept relatively cool.
The heckler likely cost Woods a stroke, but he still managed to finish tied for 23rd and shot par or better in each of the four rounds.
Woods’ final score is not only impressive because of how much time he’s missed, but also the fact he hit only 17 fairways in four rounds — the lowest percentage of fairways hit of anyone in the field. His iron game and his putting made up for his struggles off the tee.
“I think it was all very positive,” Woods said of his weekend. “The big concern was playing out of the rough. I haven’t played out of rye grass since last year — 12 full months. I wasn’t sure what I was able to do. I hit some shots, very happy about that. Unfortunately, I put myself in there. Overall, I’m very happy the way I was able to fight out the scores.”
In four rounds, he hit only 17 fairways, three fewer than his career-worst. His 30.4 percent of fairways hit was the lowest in the field.
But he made the cut in a PGA Tour event for the first time in two years and had a top-25 finish, which will almost certainly attract even larger crowds to his next scheduled appearance, the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, which begins Feb. 15.
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