It was moments after he played himself out of the PGA Championship, and Tiger Woods already was approaching his two days here at Bethpage Black with a sort of clinical acceptance.
He would learn from it, Woods said immediately after posting a 5-over-par 145 over two days and missing the cut by one stroke. And regardless of what happened this weekend, it doesn’t diminish what he did last month at Augusta.
“I’m the Masters champion and 43 years old, and that’s a pretty good accomplishment,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being the Masters champion again, and the PGA was a quick turnaround, and unfortunately I just didn’t — I just didn’t play well . . . I didn’t do all the little things I need to do correctly to post good scores and put myself in position to shoot good scores.”
To the disappointment of many fans who cheered every good shot and moaned at every bad one, Friday was not another stop on Woods’ comeback tour. The aftermath, though, was a good indication of what made that original comeback possible in the first place. Even when he’s down — as he was on Friday, watching his groupmate, Brooks Koepka, dominate the competition for the second day in a row — he maintains a steadfast belief in himself and his ability. These were bad days, he said, but he’ll figure it out.
“[I need to] open the field a little better — that’s first and foremost,” he said. “If I get that going a little better, start training and start practicing again and get back up to speed . . . There’s no reason why I can’t get up to speed again and crank it back up. I’ve got to start feeling a little bit better first before that happens. We’ll do that first and then start cranking it back up again.
“I just wasn’t moving the way I needed to. That’s the way it goes. There’s going to be days and weeks where it’s just not going to work, and today was one of those days.”
Friday’s start was a little better than Thursday’s, though Woods did bogey the second hole. But he saved par on the fifth hole, after teeing off into the rough and then into the bunker, and birdied on 6. Woods went to the ninth hole at plus 1 for the day and birdied that on a 39-foot putt. But he made bogeys on four of the next five holes — two on three-putts — to further seal his fate. There still was a chance, though, because the cut line had moved from plus 3 to plus 4 during play. Woods needed one birdie in the last four holes to squeak by, but he made par on all of them. He finished the day at 3-over-par 73, one stroke worse than Thursday.
He hit only three of 18 fairways, a damning mistake on this course.
“It’s just the way it goes,” he said. “Made too many mistakes and just didn’t do the little things I need to do. You know, I had a couple three-putts. I didn’t hit wedges close. I didn’t hit any fairways today. Did a lot of little things wrong.”