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PGA Tour Confidential: McDowell wins U.S. Open as Tiger, Phil come up short

Tiger Woods
Robert Beck/SI
Tiger Woods stumbled out of the gate on Sunday and never seriously threatened the leaders.

Garrity: I know it's none of my business, but what happened to Tiger? His third-round 66 had all the energy and drama of his Saturday surge at Torrey Pines two years ago. But nothing worked for him today. He hit it into briar patches, drove it off cliffs, missed all his must-make putts, and quietly slid off the leader board. Was his third-round brilliance a predictor of a Tigeresque summer? Or is he still lost at sea?

Gorant: On TV afterward, Tiger said he's back. He said he only hit one bad shot all day. Otherwise he was just in the wrong spots. Happy with how he played.

Godich: One bad shot?

Garrity: Okay. I believe everything Tiger says.

Evans: Tiger is in denial about his consistency. It's really sad.

Van Sickle: Tiger hit an awful drive on 3 and an awful tee ball with an iron on 4. That's two bad shots without even thinking about it. I have to disagree with Tiger's best-spin assessment. He's kind of close, but one good round and two lousy ones aren't close enough. I think he did make some progress though.

Lipsey: Usually, Tiger can say, "just a few things (insert teacher name here) and I need to tighten up, and we'll be right there." Now that he's solo, he has no place to deflect the blame too, so he just denies.

Gorant: He seemed to blame Stevie for a few "bad clubs" today.

Godich: Who's he going to blame next? I loved David Fay's retort about the greens during the Saturday telecast for all the world to hear.

Morfit: I say he's still lost at sea. He missed both ways and with a variety of different clubs.

Hack: The seas are calming and Tiger sees the lighthouse. He'll be pulling into St. Andrews as the golfer to beat.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Damon nailed it. Tiger's game is coming around, and he makes it no secret that St. Andrews is his favorite course. I expect him to win there.

Herre: Is TW's game really "coming around"? I didn't see much evidence of that in three of the four rounds.

Hack: I'd say a T4 at a brutally difficult U.S. Open after a missed cut, a WD and a 19th-place finish is evidence of a game coming around.

Van Sickle: That's just it. He came around in one of the rounds, and convincingly. That's a small step for a man, a big step for mankind.

Dusek: One good round per event becomes two, then three, etc. To think that Woods is going to go through everything he's dealing with off the course, part ways with his coach and then play brilliantly is just unrealistic.

Morfit: Here's why Tiger's game looks better at the majors: Because those are the tournaments where more of the field beat themselves. It's an illusion. We know this because he missed left, right, short and long with irons and woods, and didn't putt particularly well. He played well for ONE ROUND!

Hack: Look at the leaderboard. Nobody played even three great rounds of golf here. This major was supposed to beat these guys up, and it did. Tiger had one round in the 60s — so did McDowell, so did Phil, Ernie, Davis, and on and on. I saw plenty of two-way misses coming from a lot of bags this week.

Lipsey: St. Andrews will be the real test. After that, no more time to wait and see if it's coming around. If it's not back by then, could be a long dry spell.

Evans: There is nothing like wind to expose bad ball striking. So how can Tiger possibly succeed at St. Andrews?

Morfit: If his personal life sees some sort of resolution, then I could maybe see him winning at St. Andrews. But are you guys saying he'll be the man to beat based on one good round? That seems pretty optimistic. He hit it everywhere today, and then said he'd hurt himself with only three mental mistakes. Huh?

Hack: I'm basing it on the fact that Tiger plays St. Andrews like no other course on earth and also on his ties for fourth at Augusta and Pebble. He's clearly getting his groove back. He will be installed as the lone favorite in the UK gambling houses. Wanna bet?

Evans: Damon, Tiger won at Pebble Beach in 2000 by 15 shots. Wouldn't you also give him some credit for playing that course like no other on earth?

Hack: I actually think Tiger's 2000 Pebble performance was more about his command than the venue. He says it himself. If he could have a major played at one place every year, it would be St. Andrews. Not Augusta, not Pebble.

Dusek: He said this week that he hit the ball better at St. Andrews in 2000 than here at Pebble. The difference was he made every putt he looked at during that U.S. Open.

Godich: He'll be in the hunt and probably the favorite at St. Andrews, but the consistency is still not there. It wouldn't hurt him to tee it up a bit more. You can only hit so many balls on the range.

Evans: Tiger couldn't hit irons in the fairway, off a tee! His ball striking is inconsistent, and if he had his way, he would burn all 18 greens at Pebble.

Dusek: That's simply not true. For the week Tiger hit 70% of the fairways and 60% of the greens. Greens that we all saw were not only tiny, but so firm that they played even smaller. It was Tiger's putting on Thursday, when he was on the green in regulation on every hole on the front nine, that really cost him.

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