Woods gets free drop but pays price with poor play
"That's a pretty good souvenir for people, I'd imagine," he said.
It was reminiscent of the Bridgestone Invitational in 2006, when Woods hit a shot over the ninth green at Firestone. It hit the cart path, went onto the roof of the clubhouse and was never found. Turns out a member of the kitchen staff who was delivering pies saw a ball bouncing near his cart. He thought someone threw it at him as a prank and drove off with it. Woods was given free relief because it was not out of bounds.
The biggest difference between those incidents? Woods went on to win at Firestone.
This time, he won't even get the chance.
And so his up-and-down season continues. His game remains a mystery.
He withdrew after 11 holes of the final round at Doral with tightness in his left Achilles tendon, the same one that caused him to miss three months last year. Two weeks later, he ended 30 months without a PGA Tour victory when he won by five shots at Bay Hill. That made him a favorite at the Masters, where he tied for 40th and was harshly criticized for kicking a club after a poor tee shot on the 16th hole.
This is the third straight year at Quail Hollow that Woods wasn't around for the weekend. He missed the cut in 2010 and did not play last year while letting what was described as "minor injuries" to his left leg heal.
Next up is a tournament that also has brought very little lucky in recent times. Woods withdrew each of the last two years from The Players Championship, leaving after seven holes of the final round with a neck injury in 2010 and stopping after a 42 on the front nine last year with an Achilles injury that kept out until August.
At least he has his health, and Woods said he would resume practice immediately.
"The entire week, I didn't play the par 5s well," Woods said. "Today I made four pars. You just can't do that, especially when all of them are reachable with irons. I didn't take care of the par 5s, missed a couple other little short ones for birdie, and consequently got no momentum during the round."
Woods preached patience. He said it took him two years to fully understand the overhaul under Butch Harmon in 1998, and to get what Haney was teaching in 2004. He began working with Foley at the 2010 PGA Championship, though injuries have kept him from unlimited practice until last August.
"Obviously, we've changed a bunch of different things, and every now and again I fall into the same stuff, old stuff," Woods said. "That doesn't work with a combo platter of old and new."
After escaping with par on the fifth, Woods still had time to at least get to 1 under. A poor wedge on the par-5 seventh forced him to make an 18-footer for par, and he missed a 4-foot birdie chance on the eighth. His 40-foot birdie putt on the ninth was 4 feet short of the cup.
Was the win at Bay Hill an aberration? Maybe. After all, Woods still won the odd tournament while making changes with Harmon and Haney. Ogilvy, for one, didn't think Woods was that far away.
"I think he's playing pretty well," Ogilvy said. "He hit four or five pretty loose shots of the tee, and one into 5. If he'd holed putts, he'd be in contention. He wouldn't be out of the tournament. I think he's actually getting there. I think he's doing a lot of good stuff. If he tells you he's close, I think it's actually right. But he has to putt better."
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