Forget the tease — Tiger Woods still pedestrian after all

A picture tells a thousand (curse) words: Woods drops his club after missing birdie putt on No. 15. (AP photo)

A picture tells 1,000 words: Woods drops his club after missing birdie putt on No. 15. (AP photo)

AUGUSTA – Expect the traditional Sunday red shirt. Just not the traditional Sunday drama.

This is when everybody who got drunk off that one victory at Bay Hill (guilty, as charged) has reason to wonder: Will Tiger Woods ever be really great again? Will he ever string together tournament wins like candy beads. Will he ever win another major?

It was Day 3 at the Masters on Saturday. This was the day Woods had to be Woods again. He started the day at 3 over, with a humbling third-round start time of 10:45 a.m., and needed to post a solid red number to make him relevant before the tournament’s final 18 holes. He needed something other than pedestrian, which is what he gave us.

If golf balls were pastel-colored eggs, it looked like an early Easter. There was Woods, hiding his golf ball in pine straw, in sand, behind trees. He made some great shots. But more often than not, all they really accomplished was to make up for the cartoonish ones that could’ve led to his scorecard mutating into a Sandy Lyle starter kit.

“For some reason, I fell into my old patterns again,” he said.

This sounds like a guy running out of answers. He was at the driving range well into Friday evening, and it was no help. So he didn’t plan to go back.

“I’m a little tired,” he said.

So much for the coronation this week.

Woods birdied hole Nos. 3 and 4, but he played the rest of the day at 2 over, leaving him back where he started, and tied for 38th place, which easily would be his worst finish in a tournament he has won four times and finished in the top five 10 times. He struggled on the greens (31 putts — that’s not a misprint). He struggled on the par 5s, his usual Eden holes at Augusta National. (Woods was 133 under in 17 previous Masters on the par 5s, but he’s only 1 under through Saturday.)

Every part of his game has shown flaws at one time or another. That tells you this is as much mental as physical.

On a day when Phil Mickelson scorched the back nine with four birdies and an eagle and Peter Hanson (with an unexpected tournament lead) created wonderful memories for the Hanson’s of Svedala, Sweden, the guy who has been stirring golf’s drink was just a guy. Woods’ 3-over 219 is tied for his worst 54-hole score ever at the Masters. He ranks only 56th in the field in fairways hit (59.5 percent) and 37th in greens (59.3 percent). He missed several makable birdies.

In short, this isn’t some aberration.

Woods is 36 years old. He has had four knee surgeries and an Achilles injury. He is struggling with the concept that things just don’t come easy any more.

It happens to every athlete at some point. The ones who can maintain greatness — or at least very-goodness — despite losing their physical edge usually do so by learning patience, become smarter, controlling emotions. Woods hasn’t mastered those areas. He even felt compelled — or possibly prompted — to spent part of his post-round interview apologizing (sort of) for his second-round antics (a club kick on No. 16 and several verbal cherry bombs).

“Certainly I’m frustrated at times, and I apologize if I offended anybody by that,” he said. “But I’ve hit some bad shots, and it’s certainly frustrating at times. … I hit it right into the bunker. And it didn’t feel good on my toe, either.”

Woods hooked his 13th tee shot Saturday into trees. Then he spiked his driver into the ground, kicking up a chunk of sod. At least this time he didn’t kick the club, which Friday prompted CBS’s Nick Faldo to comment, “I think we can safely say Tiger has lost his game … and his mind.”

Some of the criticism has been excessive. It doesn’t excuse Woods’ behavior, but for one Associated Press columnist to write, “He’s an embarrassment to the sport” is way over the top. It’s not like Woods put a bounty on Rory McIlroy or was “sexting” Joslyn James at Amen Corner. Then again, that would explain the tee shot into the pine trees.

“It was so close to being a really good round of golf,” Woods said.

He didn’t sound convincing. It didn’t look convincing. The guy in the red shirt will have another early tee time.

By Jeff Schultz


Previous Masters blogs

If Fred Couples is so old, how did he shoot at 67 at the Masters?

Masters video blog, day 2 (sorry, nothing about Petrino)

Stewart Cink may have finally found his swing

R.E.M.’s Mike Mills welcomes into our little Masters pool

Billy Payne struggles to keep the focus on the Masters

A video Masters preview by Ron Burgundy (actually, just me)

Tiger Woods has that Masters champion look to him again

Hello from Masters, home of pimento cheese and monkey glands

Tiger Woods: Love him or hate him, he’s still the show

Will Augusta National finally be force to invite a woman?

By Jeff Schultz

103 comments Add your comment

Ted

April 7th, 2012
7:24 pm

“I’m close” (take 87)

James Lythgoe

April 7th, 2012
7:37 pm

With a 62 posted and a win at Bay Hill, I thought the same as you. How wrong we are. I never really expected Tiger to make a comeback, he proved me wrong with his Bay Hill and then when I thought he was back, he has proved me wrong again! I don’t know what to think about his chances of making a full recovery. I am going to forget about any predictions.

Bravissimo

April 7th, 2012
7:39 pm

couldnt happen to a nicer guy…what a punk,no class.

Ann Kilgore

April 7th, 2012
7:41 pm

In my opinion, he is an embarrassment to himself and his sport and the AP writer happens to be one of the first writers to call him out for his behavior and tell the truth about him. I’m curious, how would you describe him?

Hollis G.

April 7th, 2012
7:46 pm

Guess it’s a good thing that Hanson, Mickelson and the others didn’t listen to all you so-called experts who were predicting a cake walk for Tiger and showed up. Give me a break. One win and he is walking on water to you clowns. All of you should bend over, grab each ear and pull real hard.

wompuscat

April 7th, 2012
7:47 pm

To think, he could have meant so much to the game and to young people all over the world. I can’t see him being any thing other than just another good golfer anymore. What a shame.

Worm

April 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

Good luck Tiger..73 on Sunday and you can watch the action on TV.

StingerSplash

April 7th, 2012
8:02 pm

Still a classless jerk is Mr. Woods. “I apologize if I offended anybody by that”? Really? Why not, “I apologize for my actions.” Period. Whereas Phil Mickelson stood and watched as Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, champions all and class acts one and all, hit the ceremonial tee shots – and Mickelson had the last tee time of the day – Woods continues to act like a petulant, spoiled brat.
And what do you have against Sandy Lyle, Mr. Schultz? For those of us who were there greenside on 18 (front row, mind you) when he sank his winning putt to win the Masters, he’s one of our favorite sports memories.

Old Fan

April 7th, 2012
8:09 pm

Please. Let’s just get over this guy. Now. The HGH he took several years ago that morphed him into golf’s Barry Bonds is coming home to roost. His body is NOT holding up and his game the same.Take a look at the pics of him in the mid 90’s and today. He and Barry had the same supplier. Plus, the guy is a genuine creep. Enough.

Dumdum

April 7th, 2012
8:09 pm

8th in FedEx Cup points. A win and four top 20 finishes in 5 starts this year. Pretty pedestrian.

robert todd

April 7th, 2012
8:11 pm

Still a good golfer,but the majors are over!!!!!!!

Jeff Schultz

April 7th, 2012
8:12 pm

Ann Kilgore — Everybody hammered Tiger for his philandering. Everybody has hammered him in past for cursing, etc. I just believe now the criticism is over the top and people looking for reasons to slam him. My opinion — but I know others also think some of the criticism lately has been over the top.

Jeff Schultz

April 7th, 2012
8:13 pm

Hollis — Cakewalk? Did you read that somewhere?

Paul in NH

April 7th, 2012
8:21 pm

It is difficult to play at a consistenly high level in golf. Rory McIlroy blew up today and nobody thinks his days of winning majors are over. Maybe Tiger will come back in the majors and maybe he won’t – but I can guarantee he will still “make the needle move”.

Nativebird

April 7th, 2012
8:28 pm

The pain in your words for your fallen lover is evident. Tiger will always be a really good golfer….but the days of domination are over…which is to say, when your entire self wortH and self value is founded in a Christ-liKe self-image engrained into your psyche as a child by overbearing and insecure parents…then IT IS in fact over. A sad commentary on the difference in values this great golfer has versus…say…Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino. The latter won majors out of a sense in earning a paycheck, providing for ones family, and being the best THEY can be. Tiger wins majors out of sense that he Must prove that he is TGGOAT, the one, the anointed, something bigger than life. and that my friend will always come crashing down, always every time.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
8:31 pm

So easy to jump on him now that he is down. I will never forget the majesty of his game when he was at the top. Not for me to judge on the other.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
8:33 pm

And further, every pro ought to thank him, he tripled purses and made the average pro a millionaire

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
8:35 pm

and while I am on a roll, if you don’t think that Jack and Arnie didn’t “enjoy ” their successes, you are living in a peppermint world

Prestadigitation

April 7th, 2012
8:44 pm

I can speak as a person that was on the Woods bandwagon for a long time, but I decided to jump off a couple of years before his personal life blew up in 2009. There were several reasons for that. First, Woods has always acted like a spoiled immature baby on the golf course when things don’t go his way and just exhibited a lack of class (That just show’s lack of respect for the game). Secondly, Woods is an insufferable individual that has consistently exhibited annoyance and disdain to the fans in general. The second point also extends to him in general, as he just isn’t a pleasant person at all. I think the clincher was when it came out that Tiger basically never tips anywhere. Not tipping is one of the greatest signs of an a-hole.

I was told years before I came to this conclusion by a good friend who played golf in college the same time that Woods was at Stanford, and had played in the same tournaments with him. He had told me that despite his great talent, Tiger was just a self absorbed POS that treated everyone like crap, and for that reason he would never root for him. I didn’t believe it (or at least didn’t want to) for the longest time, but his assessment was proven correct.

It’s clear at this time that Tiger’s dominance is over and will never be reclaimed. Jack Nicklaus’ record will remain safely intact as Tiger will never break it, and while I never thought I’d say this 10 years ago, that’s a good thing.

Gordon

April 7th, 2012
8:46 pm

People quickly forget how great Tiger was, and what he is still capable of. This is a two steps forward one step back kind of thing. Winning at Bay Hill by 5 was two steps forward. Not playing well at Augusta is one step back. Just as the former didn’t mean he was “back”, the latter doesn’t mean he is “done”. Rory McIlroy shot a 77 today. Is his hope for ever winning a Masters gone forever? Stop living in the moment so much. If he plays well at Olympic you’ll be saying Jack’s record is all but his.

Amen Corner

April 7th, 2012
8:49 pm

For all you Tiger apologists, get over it. He has always been an arrogant jerk, was a very good golfer and even great when he was juicing. He helped the game of golf, but could have been so much more. Yes, Jack and Arnie enjoyed their successes but they did so with class. This guy is classless and a disgusting individual with a sense of entitlement that he does not deserve. Amen

eddy

April 7th, 2012
8:56 pm

Jeff…Tiger’s actions were there for everyone to see including his profane outbursts including his kicking of the club. PS Jeff…this wasn’t the first time for all of this. Unfortunately no one will call him out, fine him, disqualify him or anything else because of what he used to be. Did you see any other golfer having a bad day react in this selfish and egotistical way? Nope. Only Sir Eldrick. If the Master’s guys had any courage they would have publicly chastised him on TV and apologized for his behavior to the TV audience. Maybe once this is done, he’ll realize that he is just a golfer and not a very good one at the moment. And he is not bigger than the game. If he disappears tomorrow, golf will continue and flourish because of the many good, young golfers. Tiger once was something to see because of his golf. Now he is something to see because of his temper and petulance. This can’t be good for anyone but mostly for Tiger.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
9:07 pm

Eddy, he has been one of the most fined golfers for his language, maybe Jeff can confirm this. Of course the camera is on him continuously, but that doesn’t give him a pass I know. I just think a lot of people have been waiting on this moment to kill the guy. That is fine, I believe in the redemptive part of every man’s story.

NRBQ

April 7th, 2012
9:11 pm

22 comments. Less than impressive, Jeff.

Perhaps you could have written a little something about the golf that was played today at Augusta.

Ann Kilgore

April 7th, 2012
9:11 pm

Mr. Schultz, I appreciate your response to my comment so thank you for that. I believe that if you hold him to his promises of being more respectful of the game during his mea culpa press conference in 2010, it’s pretty easy to arrive at the conclusion that he is an embarrassment to himself and the game. Even when he was winning, his behavior was an embarrassment but everyone overlooked it because he was winning and a lot of people were getting rich. We’ll never know but I can’t imagine Byron Nelson or Gene Sarazan would approve of his golf course etiquette.

Old Fan

April 7th, 2012
9:52 pm

It is obvious that the PGA Tour field is so much deeper than when Tiger was younger. The reality is that Michelson, Rory, Louis, Bubba, Westwood,Kuchar, Hanson, Luke and countless others can beat this guy on most days. He is done.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
10:02 pm

Old Fan, I agree with that. But you can thank Tiger for that. He revitalized golf and brought so many of these young guys into the game.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
10:04 pm

Not to mention the money. People don’t remember how boring pro golf had become in the mid 90’s

Spare me

April 7th, 2012
10:04 pm

He is no longer relevant. Please start giving more coverage to players that make a difference.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
10:05 pm

most purses were $300k at best

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
10:08 pm

ask CBS if he is relevant

Budd

April 7th, 2012
10:12 pm

The emperor has no clothes. Sorry it took you so long to realize it.

Jeff

April 7th, 2012
10:17 pm

meant to say winning share was 300k, now most wins are worth over a million

rusty

April 7th, 2012
10:50 pm

This week at Augusta, what has Tiger done more – make birdies or kick and throw clubs?

just a thought...

April 7th, 2012
11:09 pm

…that’s on the serious side….OK, for just this time? T.Y.. Jeff!

Have got to think that there is more being reworked in Tiger’s life than his golf swing. Seems as though his fall set in motion a time of introspection through his stated rehab and accompanying accountability.

His meteoric rise to prominence and dazzling success only served to hide some serious issues that he was either in denial about or failed to recognize. Having the world’s opinion of you change so dramatically, losing close friends, experiencing the wrath of his wife and the loss of his father to say nothing of having to feel the shame of his mother must have caused the reality of his issues to consume him.

For someone to be so addicted to porn and manage such a massive coverup of extensive and multiple indelities is manifesting the typical traits of an addict…lying and denial. Coming face to face with his demons must be infinitely more difficult than a mere swing change. Our profession reveals our areas of talents and giftings, but ones sexuality goes to our true identity and can reveal more of our true character than many other things combined.

I can’t help but be reminded seeing tomorrow is Easter how Jesus forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery (where was the man?) saying: “I forgive you, go and sin no more.” Yeah, it is easy to pick on Tiger, but wonder how many men who follow him say to themselves: “Thank goodness I haven’t been found out”?

Finally, Tiger has always counted his victories by the number of majors he wins, but something tells me that if he continues with his rehab that he will one day say that his greatest victory will be gaining the victory over sexual addiction.

Kevin

April 7th, 2012
11:14 pm

He can still win majors. He’s just 36. But watching the most arrogant person I’ve ever seen struggle is exhilarating. He’s a first class punk, a childish, selfish, . . . punk. Honestly, I can’t believe he has any fans. Seriously. Who pulls for somebody who acts like that – ON THE COURSE? Many of our sports heroes have acted like Tiger’s acted AWAY from their game, but they were respectful of the game, the fans, and their opponents WHILE IN ACTION. His “apology” was nothing but him saying, “I’m sorry if YOU don’t like what I did – but not for what I did.”

Whopper Dawg

April 7th, 2012
11:15 pm

He had a chance to be the all time great both in wins and representing the game of golf as a champion.

He may still do the former, but he will never do the latter. Jack, Arnie and Gary teeing off today in respect for the tournament and the game. What class. Woods, a no show. You would have had to shackle me to stop from being there.

He is a self absorbed jerk.

Arnold Ziffel

April 7th, 2012
11:16 pm

Tiger Woods is a puss and not worth our time.

Kevin

April 7th, 2012
11:17 pm

And someone previously spoke of Woods as a PED user, a la Barry bonds. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Lots of “golf” people talk about how “thick” Tiger used to be, but he’s never been thick. These same people think scrawny little Camillo Villegas* has BIG ARMS – (Gary McCord, have you ever seen a big arm???). But my point is, PEDs have nothing to do with controlling your golf ball, and Tiger still seems to hit it pretty far – although some golf commentators say it’s b/c he’s de-lofting the club.

3d

April 7th, 2012
11:41 pm

Don’t understand why so many think this cat is the greatest of all time.

He’s using better equipment against lesser competition than Nicklaus faced.

Doesn’t look like he going to break Jack’s record. He’s not 23 anymore and his skills obviously have diminished.

Yet, the media was wetting it’s pants after Bay Hill and declaring him the Masters Champion for 2012.

You would think they wouldn’t be so fast to do that.
Just shows they know more about sports than you or I do.

Big Crimson 75

April 7th, 2012
11:42 pm

Gomer Pyle

April 7th, 2012
11:49 pm

Jeff – you and the rest of your media cronies are idiots. You all say the game of golf needs Tiger. I say B.S. We’re having another great, great tournament and I (along with most of the world) would appreciate it if someone would cover the tournament instead of the Punk. All you media leeches want him so you’ll have something to write about but the rest of us are SO freakin sick of you making TW the story. He’s not the story… The purses were smaller back in the 80’s and early 90’s so were NBA, MLB, and NFL contracts. Let me let you in on a secret…Tiger didn’t create golf. The game of golf was fine before he came along and it is finer still now that he is passing into irrelevancy. We had John Daly, the stroy of Ben Crenshaw, the Golden Bear making a surprising run in his later years, and many other great stories. Please, please, please move on and leave your infatuation with TW. There’s a great Sunday in Augusta shaing up and it doesn’t include TW.

Will Robinson

April 7th, 2012
11:51 pm

Just makes you realize how great Jack Nicklaus really was. Tiger may yet break or catch Jack but its not the cakewalk everyone thought a few years back.

Gomer Pyle

April 7th, 2012
11:56 pm

Burgess

April 8th, 2012
1:53 am

The difference in Mickelson and Tiger is that Phil has a respect for the game of golf. Tiger never has cared about the game or anybody but himself.
Phil is a gentleman, Tiger isn’t.

Barney Fife

April 8th, 2012
1:58 am

Schultz,
I guess you have no respect for the game of golf. Tiger is over the top, I respect the game. I have no respect for Tiger anymore, Your defense of Tiger is puzzling. Tiger needs to be fined and called out by the PGA and Masters Officials.

Bubba Jones

April 8th, 2012
3:36 am

Jeff….the man is tied for 38th thru 3 rounds and you devoted a column of ink to him? His lack of emotional control and the little sissie fit displayed in Augusta are nothing new. Find something interesting to report.

Spare me

April 8th, 2012
4:11 am

No Jeff he is no longer relevant to golf other than advertising. Sports writers, talking heads and marketing yes. He sells ad time because the press is obsessed with the guy. The true golf fan has been over him for quite some time. Just look at the AJC. Two references out of five on the front page for someone not even in the hunt. He’s golf’s living gossip magazine. He is one of two photo galleries today (which I have no interest in viewing). He appeals to the lowest common denominator. How sad, Such talent wasted through his own choices. Too bad for the guys at the top of the leaderboard.

legionaire

April 8th, 2012
4:45 am

Jeff I agree that the 4 knee operations and the achilles issue has effected his game. You also have to factor in the hundreds of all nighters he pulled over the years. He had to compensate somehow to compete. Who knows what kind of pain killers he is taking? At 36 he is an old man athletically. It looks like he is just another guy on the circuit. The one constant for Woods is his dad attitude on the course. Ted Williams and Ty Cobb were also jerks to fans and the press but they both respected the game. Woods proves year in and year out that he doesn’t.

Stinger 2

April 8th, 2012
5:50 am

Although I no longer have favorite tour players, I continue to have some interest. What I see is another period of waiting for the next “great player” to come along and dominate. It may not be long since there are so many more young players with the potential to do so. On the other hand the abundance of talent could level the playing field so that no one will dominate as Jack or Tiger have done in the past. As for Tiger, I agree that he is now over hyped by most of the media.