Tiger Woods improbably joined Phil Mickelson on the sidelines at Torrey Pines after the seven-time Farmers Insurance Open champion posted a horrific 7-over 79 Saturday on his way to missing the 54-hole cut.
Woods, who made every 20-handicapper watching from home feel better about their games, had a total implosion in the third round, which, with two double bogeys, seven bogeys, and four birdies, matched the second-worst career round the world No. 1 has ever carded in his professional career.
Woods’ most recent 79 was in the third round of the Memorial in 2013.
What made Woods’ meltdown, which involved a seven-hole stretch that began with two straight doubles and five consecutive bogeys, all the more shocking was that it occurred on a course he has owned to the tune of eight overall victories, including the 2008 U.S. Open.
His early and stunning exit from the tournament that will winnow the field of more than 78 players after the 36-hole cut to the top 70 and ties after 54 holes, robbed organizers of their two biggest stars, since a sore back forced Mickelson to withdraw from the proceedings on Friday night.
Tiger plummeted to one place clear of DFL prior to Saturday’s official secondary cut on a spectacular, sun-splashed San Diego day during which the contenders took on the more difficult of the two Torrey tracks. It’s absolutely stunning that Tiger, who was making his 2014 PGA Tour debut, won’t be around on Sunday, thanks to that seven-hole span in which he was an unbelievable 9-over par.
The woes for Woods, who was fighting a two-way miss with his swing, began on the 18th hole, his ninth of the day. Coming off two birdies in his preceding three holes, Woods went for the green in two, only to splash down in the water fronting the putting surface.
The double on the 18th, followed immediately by another completely head-scratching double on the first hole, pretty much summed up the troubles for Tiger, who has in the past absolutely owned the par-5s on Torrey Pines. As ESPN statistician Justin Ray noted earlier in the week, Woods entered the week having made birdie or eagle on the par-5s an awesome 67 percent of the time.
Not this week, as the course pitched a shutout at Woods, who failed to make better than par on the 12 par-5s he played.
One of the lone bright spots came on the seventh hole on Saturday, when he ended the bogey-double-bogey stretch with a stellar approach shot and birdie putt. Acknowledging his altogether horrendous play, Tiger humorously tipped his cap to the gallery before moving to the eighth tee.
Following a scrambling par on his final hole, the ninth on the South Course, Woods “politely refused” a post-round interview with the NBC Sports crew, according to lead TV broadcaster Jim Nantz, and who can blame him.
Though Woods, who entered the tourney as defending champion, won’t be in the field for Sunday’s finale due to what the tour calls MDF (Made cut: did not finish), he will receive credit for making the 36-hole cut.
As for where Saturday’s round fell in the annals of Woods’ worst rounds, it came in third on the list of all-time awful scores for the world’s best golfer. He tallied his absolute highest total as a pro in the third round of the 2002 British Open, when he carded an 81. As an amateur, Tiger posted an 80 in the first round of the Nestle Invitational.