ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The longest 36 holes of Tiger Woods’s career concluded late Saturday afternoon. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess.
A 10-and-a-half-hour wind delay allowed Woods, and many of his fellow cut-missers, to hang around the Old Course far longer than expected. Woods officially capped his 2015 British Open with a tap-in par at 7:30 p.m. local time.
But really, his week was over much earlier.
“On the very first hole on the first day, I fat a sand wedge in the water. I fatted my 3-iron off the tee, and then I fatted my 8-iron into the green on 2, drove it in a divot there on 4,” Woods said after posting a second-round 75 to finish seven shots over the cut line. “It was just one thing after another.”
For Woods it was a grim week and an ugly stain on an Old Course resume that includes two Open titles. There are mounds of gruesome numbers from Woods’s 36 holes: he missed 13 of 32 fairways and one out of every three greens; he failed to card a birdie on the front nine, the Old Course’s easier side; he made just three birdies in 36 holes.
“I felt like I was playing well enough to win this event,” Woods said. “I had my opportunities, I just didn't get the ball close enough, and then when I did, I didn't make them.”
Well enough to win? Opportunities? Woods has never seemed more lost.
This is the first time he has missed back-to-back cuts in majors. He said that he’ll next play the Quicken Loans National, which he sponsors, and then the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He said he hopes to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he’s won eight times. Maybe it’ll all go according to plan.
Late in the day, the winds died down and the sun cast a softer light. Woods made a nice up-and-down from the Road Hole bunker and tipped his hat to the crowd. On 18 he ripped a drive to the front of the green. He trudged up the fairway chatting with his playing partner Jason Day, and together they traversed the Swilcan Bridge. Just over 24 hours earlier, Tom Watson stood on that same stone crossing and took several long moments to say farewell. The next St. Andrews Open is five years away (or six if the Old Course instead gets the nod for the Open’s 150th anniversary, in 2021, as many expect it will). Could this have been Woods’ final bridge crossing? The crowds cheered like they thought it might be. Woods never broke stride.
When asked about the next Old Course Open, he said, “I'll probably have less hair then and hopefully a little better game.”
Maybe it’ll all go according to plan.
After he tapped in for that final par, and after he shook hands with his playing partners and waved to the cheering fans and did his 10 minutes with the press, Woods crossed Golf Street via an elevated walkway, striding lockstep with his spokesman, Glenn Greenspan. There was no entourage. In the parking lot he shook hands with Greenspan, gave his caddie, Joe LaCava, a hearty hug and climbed into the back seat of a silver courtesy car.
Moments later, the Old Course was behind him.