Published November 20, 2014
He shot his worst opening-round score ever in a major on Thursday with a seven-over 77. Woods followed with a three-over 73 and he missed his first cut in his 14th PGA Championship.
"I think it's a step back in the sense that I didn't make the cut and I'm not contending in the tournament," Woods said Friday.
Woods has missed significant time this season after he hurt his leg at the Masters, but the bigger picture has more to do with the last two years in Tiger's post-scandal world.
He fired his coach. He fired his caddie. He stayed with his agent, but even the agent changed companies.
Tiger is a man whose career is in serious flux. What was so alarming about his PGA Championship performance was that you saw things from Woods that you didn't associate with the man before.
At times on Friday, Woods looked positively indifferent. He'd hit a bad shot and just pull the tee from the ground and walk to find it. In years past, Woods would've let out an expletive that would make a sailor blush, slam the club into the ground and stew.
Woods appeared resigned to the fact that he's completely ordinary. He's fallen to 30th in the world. For a few holes, he'd hit it left. Then, he'd go so far right you'd think he was in the Tea Party.
At the 12th, he snap-hooked a ball into the woods with his third. That was after he drove into the woods first and pitched out. He knocked balls into the water after finding bunkers and he was in the sand a lot. Woods himself estimated 20 times over two rounds, which means he was in a bunker on more than half of his holes.
So the cut has been missed and the jet took him home Friday night.
What can he do now because, this, whatever he's doing, is not working even a little.
The good news is that Woods will have plenty of time.
Woods didn't even qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. With the missed cut and his decision not to play in the last regular-season event next week, Woods can't tee it up again on the PGA Tour until at least the first weekend of October.
That's right, Woods isn't eligible to play on a tour in which he's third all- time in wins.
According to him, this is a blessing in disguise.
"Now I'll have nothing to do but work on my game," he said. "That's going to be good. [Swing coach] Sean [Foley] and I haven't had the opportunity to really sit down and do a lot of work, so this will be our time."
This is exactly what he needs. Some pundits on TV suggested Woods enter the field next week at the Wyndham Championship so he could make one last ditch effort to get into the Playoffs.
What for? His game is in such a state of disrepair, playing in front of people at this point does him no good. Woods is at a point where he doesn't even know where the ball might be going.
"The changes I'm making, I'm hitting the ball further, and that's something I have to adjust for. I have way more compression now than I ever have," said the always technical Woods. "So the ball is now coming off cleaner, faster, and I've got to get used to that."
If you believe he's actually hitting it better, please look at his first two rounds at Atlanta Athletic Club, then come see me.
Woods was absolutely correct to pass on the Wyndham Championship. There is nothing to be gained from playing competitive golf at this point. He looks so clueless on the course that he could do more damage if he keeps it up like this.
But this brings up something on a much larger scale.
Tiger should stop with these swing coaches.
I forget who articulated this on television, but it's dead on. Butch Harman tweaked Tiger's swing, which was all his own. All that happened was Woods had perhaps one of the two greatest swings in the history of the sport.
Then Woods went to Hank Haney and the success is hard to debate. Woods won at least six majors with Haney as the instructor, but Haney overhauled his swing to fit his teaching style.
Now, the same thing is going on with Foley. Woods needs to learn Foley's philosophies with plane, trajectory and all of that nonsense, but should he have to?
Woods has the third most tour wins and second most majors in history. Who knows his swing better than himself? He shouldn't be learning a new swing at this point in his career.
Why not go back to the way he was swinging with Butch, or even Haney? The success is on Woods' mantle under those ideologies. Foley may be the best instructor in the game today, but there's too much going on with Woods right now and the best thing for him is to go back to familiarity.
Of course this won't happen, but at least Woods knows how much work is ahead of him. He's not scheduled for any events until November, but rumor has it he's playing in Australia before the Presidents Cup.
American captain Fred Couples said one of his picks is Tiger's if he wants, but I beg everyone to think about that. Tiger should say, "my game is horrendous and I probably couldn't beat the Prime Minister of Australia. Please don't even bother offering me a spot, Boom Boom."
Or Couples could recant his statement from last week about Tiger getting a spot by saying, "I had no earthly idea he was this bad right now."
Stay away from tournament golf until November, don't let Foley completely revamp everything, hire a very positive, professional caddie and grind it out on the range.
This is rock bottom. Goodbye until autumn, Tiger.