Woods looks lost in the trees

 

We've seen this a lot more than the Tiger Woods' fist-pump this week at the Masters. Here, Woods reacts after missing a potential birdie putt on the 12th hole. (AJC photo/Curtis Compton.)

We've seen this look more often than the Tiger Woods' fist-pump this week at the Masters. Here, he reacts after missing a birdie putt on the 12th hole. (AJC photo/Curtis Compton.)

  Augusta – On the first hole of the first day of his 15th Masters, Tiger Woods stepped to the tee when suddenly the silence in the gallery was pierced by somebody yelling, “Medic!”

  A spectator had collapsed less than 20 feet away. Fans and officials came to the man’s aid, and he turned out to be fine. But with the eventual first tee shot coming while someone remained sprawled on the ground, it set a bizarre tone for Woods in this Masters.

  Three rounds later, the expected star of this show still isn’t quite in synch.

  It’s a Masters Sunday, but Tiger Woods is significantly off the radar. He looks uncomfortable on a course that once seemed like his living room. After shooting 2-under on day one and par on day two, many expected a market correction. Didn’t happen.

  Woods needed to grind just to overcome himself Saturday, let alone the 18 names ahead of him on the leaderboard to start the day. He hooked his drive into the trees and double-bogeyed the first hole. Three of his first six drives landed in the woods.

  There’s a general rule of thumb in golf: If your fans keep racing through trees and pine straw to look for your ball and the left of the fairway strangely resembles a 7,000-person safari, it’s probably not going to be a good day.

  If Tiger Woods isn’t viewed as toast in this Masters, it’s only because we’re all perpetually drunk from his past otherworldly feats. But don’t count on a Sunday phenomenon. Woods buried himself early Saturday, scrambled back to finish the round at 2-under, but still enters the final day with an uncommonly mortal score of 4-under through 54 holes.

  He is seven shots off the lead. Even worse, he has nine golfers ahead of him and eight tied with him.

  Too much.

  Too many.

  “Overall I just wasn’t quite comfortable today for some reason,” Woods said. “Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll have it.”

  Tiger Woods doesn’t “hope.” Tiger Woods just does.

  When Tiger Woods hopes, something is off.

  That win at Bay Hill two weeks ago? It wasn’t a forecast, it was an aberration.

  He double-bogeyed the first hole. He hit his first two tee shots and two more Saturday into the woods. He has been just off enough with his irons to make a significant difference on an unforgiving course.

  On the greens? He three-putted two holes (Nos. 1 and 11). He has missed several potential birdies. He has 92 putts over 54 holes – seventh most among the remaining 50 golfers in the field.

  “I haven’t made a lot of putts and when I’ve had iron shots I didn’t hit them stiff,” Woods said. “All week I’ve been one yard off, two yards off, and when you miss these ridges on the wrong side — at nine I missed the hump by a yard, and [was left with] a 40-footer up hill. That’s the way it’s been all week.”

   On the par-5 second hole, Woods managed to save par after he dropped to one knee to hit an 8-iron out of the woods (about 12 yards) and then hit the edge of the green with his third shot. Then he two-putted. Sympathy applause.

  He nearly holed the 180-yard sixth hole. But the ball hit the flag stick and rolled off the green. Two putt. Par. More sympathy applause.

  For much of Saturday, he was over par and looked like the lesser half of the Woods-Graham McDowell pairing. But then he birdied 13, 15 and 17. He scrambled to save par on 18, which he already has bogeyed twice.

  “I’ve got to suck it up and move on,” Woods said.

  Moving up – that will be a little more difficult.

Jeff Schultz, fighting to stay relevant with peeps under 40, can be reached via email (jschultz@ajc.com), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).

12 comments Add your comment

James Youngblood

April 11th, 2009
9:34 pm

NO WAY….that Cabrera, Perry, and Furyk all choke tomorrow…Tiger will NOT win…

MP

April 11th, 2009
10:00 pm

I am so sick of the press and Tiger. The guy is out of it. Give it a rest.

Tiger Rules

April 11th, 2009
11:07 pm

Tiger is the man! He’ll find a way to come back on Sunday and win another green jacket—he’s the best in history.

JohnnyG

April 12th, 2009
12:11 am

The tournament is now between Cabrera, Perry, Campbell and Furyk… I think a 70 by Cabrera or Perry (-13) will win.

JR

April 12th, 2009
3:38 am

No, Tiger Woods will most likely not win the Masters tomorrow. But let’s not write off his career just yet. He’s had slumps before, and he’s certain to be rusty coming off a long stretch of not playing due to injury. This is a guy who won the US Open last year with a freaking broken leg, for crying out loud. If he doesn’t win this major, you can be sure he’ll win more down the road. And you know, if by some miracle he does pull off a win at Augusta, I won’t be all that surprised either. I’ve heard many naysayers about Tiger Woods in the past, and I’ve had a good laugh watching them proven wrong again and again.

Political Man

April 12th, 2009
6:29 am

Schultz et al: golf at venues like the Masters is freaking hard. Being off by 1 percent will kill you. Which brings us to Tiger. The guy has been very inconsistent in his career. He does not own his swing. His swing owns him. That’s a prescription for disaster. He virtually never wins easily because his game is so precarious. He doesn’t just fight the course; he has to fight himself. Given all of that, his record is nothing short of miraculous. Jack N. was actually a far better golfer than Woods. Seldom did he beat himself as Woods does frequently. He is only following his pattern at Augusta. The last three years have been more of the same. He’s been trying to find a swing for 15 yrs. It’s not going to happen. What you’ve seen is what your going to get. Very, very inconsistent play that is puzzling to most combined with patches of brilliance. Two people with the goofiest swings on tour are ahead of Tiger: Perry and Furyk. But they can do it every time. Consistency works.

george

April 12th, 2009
9:32 am

If Tiger had putted well the first two rounds, he’d be a lot closer to the lead. The golf purists know how well he struck the ball in those first two rounds. I will make a prediction….if he hits the ball well today and hits fairways, like he did thurs. and friday, and shoots 33 or better on the front nine…he will be in the mix come early evening today.

george

April 12th, 2009
9:39 am

oh yea….same predicion on Tigers playing partner…..either one of them shoots 33 or better on the front…..they will make a run on the leaders. And if that happens, it will then be all about how the players near the top of the board handle the pressure, which will be so thick you could cut it with a knife. Jim F. can stand the heat….I wonder how Angel will hold up late when he will want one of those Marlboro reds, but realize there aren’t any in his bag….watching him chain smoke coming down the stretch at Oakland Hills (I think that’s the right course) was a hoot. sort of joking…he will be OK without the smokes and I think Perry will hold up well too. the last couple of groups will be on about 16 when Tiger and Phil finish…..if one of them posts -11….it will be fun to watch how the leaders get to “the house.”

Rob

April 12th, 2009
9:41 am

ABT…anybody but tiger!

Jeff Schultz

April 12th, 2009
11:00 am

Phil and Tiger paired today. Interesting. Everybody remember this story involving Steve Williams (Tiger’s caddy) from December? . . . http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/news/story?id=3770488

NRBQ

April 12th, 2009
12:54 pm

Tiger has ruined golf.

I’ve enjoyed watching golf, and especially the Masters, for many years. But when Woods is out of contention, it’s just no fun anymore.

His athletic talent aside, you just can’t help but pull for a guy with that much heart and will. From all the World Juniors, to the three Junior Amateurs, to three U.S. Am’s, to winning his first major as a pro by 12 strokes and everything that has followed, no other golfer will ever measure up.

It’s easy to pull for K. Perry, bless his heart, but watching him and Furyk, Cabrera, etc, is a huge let-down.

george

April 12th, 2009
4:00 pm

wow…….33 or BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is absolutely incredible. Golf purists have to be loving this….