What set Woods off on Friday wasn't hard to figure out. He missed three putts under 5 feet on the front nine — two of them badly — and was already steaming when he started the back. Then the swing he thought had been rebuilt to perfection with coach Sean Foley collapsed under the pressure of trying to post a score.
He swung a club in anger after pushing an iron shot badly on No. 11, then cursed when he missed the par putt. He muttered after another shot stuck in the bank of the hazard on the 13th hole, then threw a tee down in anger to mark the spot for his pitch. A 4-iron at 15 went so far right he was yelling at it and looked like he wanted to break his club, and on the 16th hole he was so irritated by a missed 9-iron that he dropped the club behind him, then kicked it as hard as he could.
That prompted former swing coach Hank Haney, who wrote in his book that Woods used to give him the silent treatment when he played badly, to tweet "Glad it's not me."
When Woods was done, his agent and the person he pays to shield him from the media put him in front of a friendly questioner in the media scrum outside the scoring area. He gave a smile for the cameras, talked about how he was still in the tournament and, in a final absurdity, preached the importance of patience for the weekend.
That Woods is still fighting the demons that have gotten into his game — and perhaps his life — is evident. He's obviously frustrated at being where he is in a tournament he expected to be competitive in after winning two weeks ago at Bay Hill, and is coming to the unsettling realization that the swing changes he's made don't always work under pressure.
But he's the greatest player of his era, and a role model in the sport. He has a responsibility to behave, yet he can't seem to control how he behaves.
He embarrassed himself, and he embarrassed the sport.
But at least we know more now about the real Tiger Woods.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or twitter.com/timdahlberg
16 Week Curriculum With Instructions, Lesson Plans & CNG Conversion Kit