Tiger Woods misses the cut at Quail Hollow
So much for Tiger Woods wanting the attention to return to his golf.
In a shocking meltdown Friday at the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte, N.C., Woods matched the worst nine-hole score of his PGA Tour career and wound up with a seven-over-par 79 to miss a cut for only the sixth time in his 14-year career.
He had three-putt bogeys on consecutive holes. He hit a flop shot that ran over the green and into the water. And he bottomed out on the 15th green with a four-putt double bogey from just more than 30 feet.
"It is what it is," Woods said when asked if rust or mechanics were the culprit. "Whatever it was, it wasn't good enough."
Not even close.
Making the performance even more surprising is that Woods was coming off a tie for fourth at the Masters three weeks ago, a remarkable performance considering it was his first competition since a five-month break after being caught cheating on his wife.
This was a big step back.
The 79 was his second-worst score as a pro behind an 81 that Woods shot in the wind-blown third round of the 2002 British Open at Muirfield when he was going for the Grand Slam. His 43 on the back tied his worst nine-hole score on tour; he also shot 43 at the Bay Hill Invitational three years ago, and the 1996 Tour Championship.
"He's obviously got things in his mind other than what's going between the ropes right now," said British Open champion Stewart Cink, who played with Woods. "You've got to learn how to balance what's going on in your life with your golf. And if you're not in a great place mentally, then it sometimes shows up out there."
This was his first time playing at a regular PGA Tour event with public ticket sales, and the crowd was gracious as ever with a few exceptions. Two fans, including a woman, held thumbs-down as Woods walked off the 15th green. Police also escorted away a fan who apparently heckled Woods as he left the 17th green. A friend of the fan, who declined to give his name, said the fan only said, "No red shirt for you on Sunday."
Otherwise, it was clear over the last two days the fans were more interested in Woods as a golfer than anything to do with his personal life. He just didn't give them much to cheer. And he won't be around for the weekend.
Billy Mayfair was the leader through 36 holes. At 8-under 136 after a 68, he had a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, who played in Woods' group.
For Woods, it was the first time he had missed a cut since the British Open last summer at Turnberry, and the first time at a regular PGA Tour event since the Disney Classic at the end of the 2005 season.
"Give this guy a chance, though. He'll bounce back," Mayfair said. "We all know that. Everyone on tour knows that. By him missing a few cuts here and there, it's just going to make him come back even stronger. I don't think anyone out here is worried about Tiger, and I'm sure Tiger is not worried about it right now, either."
One shot over the projected cut going to the back nine, Woods bogeyed the next three holes before it really turned ugly. He hit driver on the 329-yard 14th hole well to the right on a hill, leaving him a downhill shot to a green sloping toward the water. His flop shot came out too hot and went into the water for a double bogey.
He had little chance of making the cut at that point, though more drama followed. He four-putted the 15th, missing a 30-inch putt.
"I've seen him struggle like that off the tee," said Cink, who also missed the cut. "But he's usually the magician that gets the ball up and down from everywhere, hits some miraculous shots out of the trees and stuff. But you've got to remember, he hasn't played a lot of golf since about November. It's hard to just come back and be the magician instantly."
-- Associated Press
Photo: Tiger Woods watches his errant tee shot at No. 15 on Friday during the second round of the Quail Hollow Championship. Credit: Scott Halleran / Getty Images