Tiger Woods missed the cut at the 2019 Open Championship on Thursday during Round 1; he just had to wait a day and 18 more holes to make it official. Woods followed a 7-over 78 on Thursday with a nice little 1-under 70 on Friday, but a 6-over 148 is not going to get within striking distance of the cut line when play is finished on Friday evening.
Woods (T119) fell five shots back of the 73-man cut, and there were a number of big names — Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day — that just missed the line.
Tiger’s game was much sharper in the second round. After a day in which he didn’t hit even 60 percent of fairways or greens in regulation, Woods hit nearly 80 percent of greens in regulation in the second round. He was able to work the ball a little bit off the tee and with his long irons, too, which is something he lamented not being able to do after Thursday’s awful round.
To start the day, Tiger — somewhat improbably after what we witnessed on Thursday and after his warmup on Friday (see photo below) — birdied the first, and then he birdied the sixth as well. Because he was so far out of the tournament, nobody really noticed, and Woods was not shown nearly as much as normal on television. Still, the start was something.
He followed it with a bogey at the seventh, though, and went out in 35. He started the back with another pair of birdies, and it was as if Woods simply took 27 holes to warm up to the tournament. But the one at No. 11 was his last birdie of the event. Five pars and then two bogeys to close when he desperately needed two birdies just to have a gander at the cut line, and Tiger’s Open was closed.
“This is just me not playing well, not scoring well,” Woods said, according to Golf Channel’s Jimmy Roberts. “I don’t have the flexibility I once had. I never will. So I have to make adaptations. The hardest thing is to accept that I’m not going to be consistent. There’s times you’re going to be there and times you won’t.”
The silver lining here is that Woods physically looked more adept on Friday than he did on Thursday (shoe tying aside). His game isn’t there — he told us this early in the week — and he looked totally lost and even a little despondent in Round 1 when a creaky body could not find oil. Not true on Friday. He wasn’t doing cartwheels down the fairway to celebrate Patrick Reed’s 67, but he at least looked as if the game wasn’t a beatdown for him.
Add it all up, though, and it’s his third missed cut at an Open Championship. He also missed the cut in 2009 and 2015. Additionally, it’s his second missed cut in three major starts since winning the Masters in April, the first time in his career he’s missed two major cuts in the same year he’s won a major championship title. To contextualize that a little bit, Woods missed two of his first 55 major starts to start his professional career.
It’s just the second time in his career and first time since 2015 that Woods missed multiple cuts at majors in the same season, and he now only has 20 missed cuts in 342 career starts on the PGA Tour. Of course, seven of those have come at the 13 majors he’s played dating back to 2014.
So where do we go from here? I have no idea. Tiger is not some sideshow to be gawked at these majors. He won the Masters 100 days ago. But he’s also not going to be the always-in-it heavyweight we’re used to. We don’t know how to deal with an inconsistent Woods, and I’m going to be fascinated to see how we look back on that Masters victory.
Will we see it as the high point of an up-and-down post-fourth surgery career, or will we see it as the beginning of the end of his playing days? He’s gone back to that win a lot. He’s said it took a lot out of him. Is he talking about 2019 or for the rest of his career? Only time will tell on that, and that’s maybe not the best thing for Tiger because it’s time right now that seems to be warring against him.
For now, all we do know is Woods will be taking a couple weeks off to get ready for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.