Tiger Woods misses cut a week after winning; British Open is up next

July 7, 2012

Fact: Tiger Woods has rediscovered his winning touch this year. What else can you say? He's the only player in golf with three victories this season.

Fact: Tiger Woods has a new penchant for inconsistency. Missing a cut is a rare occurrence for Woods, and it's always news when it does happen. It seemed like a big deal when he missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in May. Then he bounced back with victories at the Memorial and last week's AT&T National.

Woods missed another cut early Friday evening, when the storm-delayed second round of the Greenbrier Classic finally concluded. Woods shot 69, 1 under par, after an opening 71 and missed the cut by one shot.

Fact: Missed cuts are so rare for Woods that it's been seven years since he last missed two in one PGA Tour season. The last time it happened was in 2005, when he didn't play on the weekend at either the EDS Byron Nelson Classic or the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.

Related Photos: Tiger on the cover of Sports Illustrated

Fact: A lack of course knowledge, and an inability to adjust to the high temperatures and the altitude of the course in the Appalachian Mountains combined to hamper Woods. This was his first trip to this tournament and to the Greenbrier Resort. Because he had a Nike photo shoot scheduled Monday, Woods didn't see the course until Wednesday's pro-am and that probably cost him.

Because the ball was flying farther in the high temperatures and the thin air, Woods had troubled controlling the distances of his approach shots. Thursday, he hit only five approach shots inside 20 feet and had few realistic chances for birdies. He spent two days being baffled by where his iron shots ended up.

Fact: It wasn't his driver that hurt him at the Greenbrier. He hit 75 percent of the fairways, better than average for him. It was his iron play.

"I didn't quite have it," Woods said after the second round finished just before dark Friday. "I drove it really good today, but I didn't have a feel for the distances. The ball went forever. Consequently, I made some bogeys."

Woods shrugged off his disappointing position.

"It happens," he said. "You miss cuts out here. I've been doing it for a long time. I think I've missed nine."

Fact: Repeat, it is a rare day, indeed, when he misses a cut. Woods said he was surprised by his scores coming off his win last week at Congressional.

"Yeah, I had my distances dialed in and this week, I was hitting it so far," he said. "I was hitting shots to numbers I don't normally hit. I really struggled to hit the ball the right number."

Typically, though, Woods battled to the end when play finally resumed after lightning delayed play for more than two-and-a-half hours in the second round. Woods was about to putt on the ninth green when the horn sounded, suspending play.

As he went to the final three holes, he still had a chance to make the cut if he could play them in two under par. He hit his drive through the fairway at the angled 16th hole, and his shot from the left rough landed hard near the pin and ran more than 30 feet past. He raised his arms in frustration, thinking he'd played a good shot, but the greens were firm enough that shots from the rough didn't hold well. He two-putted for par.

At the par-5 17th, a must-make-birdie situation, Woods drove it just two yards off the fairway in the left rough, which was thick enough that he was forced to lay up instead of trying to go for the green in two. His third shot checked up some 25 feet short and he two-putted for par.

At the 18th, he still had a mathematical chance to play the weekend if he made a hole-in-one on the par-3 finishing hole. He hit his shot close, but it wasn't an ace. Woods made the birdie putt and finished at even par, missing the cut by one.

There were good vibes in Tiger's group, though. His playing partners did well.

U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson shot 66, and took the tournament lead by one stroke while Steve Stricker, who was also below the cut line early in the round, made five straight birdies starting at the 13th hole to shoot 67 and move into the top 25.

Related Photos: Tiger's life in pictures

The loss of Tiger was part of a one-two punch to the tournament. Phil Mickelson missed the cut for the second straight year, shooting a pair of one-over 71s. He suffered a double-bogey in each round.

Meanwhile, 62-year-old Tom Watson, the Greenbrier's pro emeritus, made the cut.

Woods will now have more time to prepare for the British Open in two weeks at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's. He's had two so-so finishes there. He was 22nd in the 1996 British Open there, the year Tom Lehman won it. In 2001, when David Duval was the champion, Woods was 25th.

Which Tiger will show up at Lytham? The three-time winner or the two-time cut-misser?

Check back in two weeks.