SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — With his seventh straight season without a major title officially in the books, Tiger Woods was asked about his future plans.
“I’m going to go home and watch the leaders tee off and play,” said Woods on an idyllic summer Saturday morning, his private jet presumably already idling in a nearby airfield. “Probably in Florida. Actually I’ll go to my sports bar, how about that?”
Woods grinned a little when he delivered the line about his new eatery in Jupiter, Fla., but the fact remained that he’ll be watching the remainder of this PGA Championship like most golf fans. Away from the course — at a bar or on the couch.
The only difference, of course, is that Woods owns the bar.
And he probably owns a much nicer couch.
Woods can now retire to either spot to consider the worst majors season of his career by far. After finishing tied for 17th at The Masters, Woods struggled through recovery from a back injury and complications with a new swing to miss the cut at the U.S Open, British Open and now the PGA Championship.
“It’s frustrating to miss any cuts,” said Woods when asked if he attached any special significance to his low batting average in this year’s majors.
Woods might have been able to fly home from Wisconsin late Friday night, but intense storms in the Whistling Straits area chased his group from the course on the 14th hole. That meant an early Saturday morning resumption (a similar situation Woods faced at St. Andrews) with a score of 4-over and an outside chance of making the cut (set at 2-over) if things went well over the final five holes. (Indeed, playing partner Keegan Bradley took advantage of the opportunity with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 getting him to 2-over and earning him two extra rounds at a major.)
An early bogey on No. 14, however, dashed any hope for Woods. Not even a nice birdie on the par-3 17th in front of a cheering crowd was enough to provide any consolation for Tiger, who scored 75-73 over two days plagued with putter problems.
“I finally figured something out today on the putting green, but the damage had already been done,” Woods said. “Finally rolled the ball coming in, and unfortunately it was too little too late.”
The appearance at Whistling made it an even 10 Tour events for Woods this season. Whether or not he stretches it to 11 remains up in the air. While Woods announced on Friday night that he’d put in his paperwork for next weekend’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., his agent Mark Steinberg later told ESPN.com that Woods hadn’t fully committed. The papers had only been filed to hit the event’s Friday deadline.
Woods didn’t shine any more light on the decision Saturday morning, only saying that he’d work with his team “over the next couple days” to see if “it’s the right move or not.” Steinberg told ESPN.com that Wyndham would be notified of Woods’ intentions with plenty of time so Woods’ spot in the field wouldn’t go to waste if he withdraws.
Woods hasn’t played consecutive weeks since Torrey Pines and Phoenix near the start of the season. It’s been speculated that a first-ever appearance in Greensboro is a last-minute Hail Mary attempt to make the FedEx Cup field — he’d have to finish either first or solo second — but Woods didn’t set that expectation, saying “it’s more about about building.”
“I just need to get more consistent in tournament golf,” Woods said. “Only way you can do that is by playing.”
While there’s nothing Woods can do to save 2015 from being the worst of his professional career, it’s possible he can still make inroads before his 40th birthday on Dec. 30 and the calendar turns to 2016. A slate of international events awaits and Woods said he looks forward to building on confidence that only recently returned.
“I haven’t been able to put consistently both together for an entire event,” Woods said. “Maybe for a day or two but not for an event. … Now if I can start putting like I did [Saturday] or what I did at Quicken Loans a couple weeks ago, then we got something.”
A PR person cut off questions for Woods a few moments later and the player stepped off the podium to start his early trip home.
While he was once a fixture at majors on Saturdays and Sundays, Woods was off to become a fixture on a cushion or stool. And what happens after this weekend? Well, nobody’s really quite sure.
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- Tiger Woods