(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
By Joel Beall
Tiger Woods called the onset to Saturday’s round at Pebble Beach “crap.” The description to Sunday’s start . . . well, take it away, Tiger.
“Again, got off to another crappy start,” he said.
The 43-year-old began his fourth round four over through the six holes that constitute the easiest stretch of the course. And if that were that, no one could have blamed Woods if he would have packed it in.
His body was clearly not cooperating with the cooler climate, as Woods played his second consecutive round with medical tape on his neck. Someone must have replaced his Scotty Cameron with a knock-off because the putter looked foreign to him all week. Even his approach game, the best in golf, was troubling him, with nearly every second shot coming up short.
But then something happened that hasn’t happened all week. The 15-time major winner started to cook.
“Just keep fighting,” Woods said. “Just because I got off to a bad start doesn’t mean it’s over. Keep grinding, keep playing.”
He sank a 15-footer at the short par-3 seventh. At the eighth, the third-hardest hole of the week, Woods stuck his approach from 210 yards to five feet, bestowing one of the few birdies of the week.
Woods managed to keep the big numbers at bay through the rest of the gauntlet, making pars on the next four holes. He then gave the crowd, which remained large and vocal despite his scoreboard standing, something to really cheer about, dropping a 40-footer on the 13th. Another red figure, this time at the par-5 14th, managed to erase Woods’ four-over start.
“It was just a matter of can I somehow get it back to even par for the day and the total. And that was our goal,” Woods said.
He did more than that. Woods made another birdie, this time at the 16th thanks to an approach to eight feet. Woods executed an up-and-down out of the greenside bunker at the par-3 17th, then added a little sizzle at the final hole with a wedge shot to five feet. Woods cleaned up what was left, putting the exclamation mark on a six-under, 12-hole finish.
“Happened to get a couple more out of it which is great,” Woods said. “But it was—got off to a bad start, and let’s see if we can get it to even par. And it was a nice finish to get two-under par.
Yes, the run was two days too late. It was also a welcomed sight after three-and-a-half days of struggle. Especially since we likely won’t see Tiger again for quite some time. Twice Woods was asked about his next scheduled start, and both times Tiger brushed aside notions it would be soon.
“I think I’m going to take a little bit of time off and enjoy some family time,” Woods said, later adding he would play again before the Open Championship at Royal Portrush… “at my home.”
Given he entered as one of the tournament favourites, the week will likely be viewed as a disappointment for Woods. Those lucky enough to watch his finish on Sunday would argue otherwise.