JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Tiger Woods’ stunning downfall has gotten worse: He missed the cut at the PGA Championship.
And it wasn’t even close.
The player who once dominated golf headed home Friday after shooting a 10-over 150 at Atlanta Athletic Club, coming up short of the cut by a staggering six strokes.
With no one seizing control of the tournament, this became another day to focus on Woods’ collapse, his career in tatters because of personal failings and a broken game.
Consecutive double-bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes ruined any hopes he had of making it to the weekend. He finished with a 3-over 73 on the heels of an opening-round 77.
“I hit 20 bunkers in two days. I had four or five water balls,” Woods said. “That’s not going to add up to a very good score.”
This was only the third time he’s missed the cut in a major as a professional, following the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot (shortly after the death of the his father) and the British Open at Turnberry two years ago.
Woods finished in appropriate fashion at the 18th, putting his tee shot in the bunker, his second shot in the water and finishing with a bogey.
He was on the sideline for three months – missing the last two majors – because of an injured leg. Woods returned a week ago at Firestone, proclaiming himself fully fit and ready to go for his 15th major title.
That will have to wait.
Woods is dropping out of public view again for another long layoff. He won’t attempt to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoff, so his next tournament will be in November when he heads to Australia.
There’s a lot of work to do, though Woods believes it largely has to do with trusting the changes in his swing.
“My cut shots don’t cut as much and my draws don’t draw much,” he said. “You think it would be pretty easy, but I’ve played for years a certain way, and I’m going to have to kind of get my sight lines where I feel comfortable with it.”
If Woods missing the cut was the biggest surprise, the golfers at the top of the leaderboard were close behind.
Keegan Bradley, playing in his first major, shot a 64. Jason Dufner, who had missed the cut in five of his last six events, made 65. Both were at 5-under 135.
“I’m playing some good golf,” said Bradley, the nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley. “When you’re playing well, it seems easy. I’m hitting a lot of greens and putting some of the best I’ve putted all year.”
Steve Stricker came into the round with a two-stroke lead after a bogey-free 63 – tied for the lowest score ever in a major and just a hair away from having the record all to himself. He missed a 10-footer for birdie and a 62 at his final hole Thursday.
There would be a lot more of those on Friday. Suddenly, one of the game’s steadiest putters couldn’t make one, lipping out a couple of short attempts and ceding the lead with four bogeys on the front side. He slumped to a 74 and was two shots off the lead.
Jim Furyk (65), D.A. Points (67), John Senden (68) and Scott Verplank (69) were one shot behind at 136.
Rory McIlroy hasn’t given up challenging on the weekend, even after struggling to a 73 that included a triple bogey. He was eight shots off the lead.
Just making it through the first two days was an accomplishment for McIlroy, given what he did on his third hole of the tournament. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland strained a tendon Thursday when he foolishly took a swing with his ball sitting against a thick tree root.
He considered quitting a couple of times, but felt comfortable about carrying on after getting an MRI and being told by the medical staff that he couldn’t do any more damage. With a heavily taped arm and wrist, he carried on another day – and did well enough to make it to the weekend.
“If it wasn’t a major,” he said, “I probably would’ve stopped.”
McIlroy said his wrist didn’t hurt as much in the second round.