It used to be an automatic for Tiger Woods. Winning majors, when heading into the weekend tied for the lead. He was 8 for 9 in that situation heading into Saturday of the 2012 US Open, tied for -1 along with Jim Furyk. Both of them imploded eventually, leaving the road open for Webb Simpson. But it was longer, more painful, as always, to watch Tiger going through another meltdown.
Well, it wasn’t exactly a meltdown. There was no tantrum, and no cursing, and no clubs flying around. Simply Woods going into long stretches filled with bogeys. He scored 75 and 73 on the weekend, finishing with a +7, tying him for 21st in the tournament. His worst ever finish at the US Open, tied for his second worst weekend in a major tournament. Only his 73-76 from the 2004 US Open was worse.
Saturday began with four bogeys on the first eight holes. His problems with the greens pretty much ruined the weekend and the tournament for him. He had a chance to remain in contention with the final three holes on Saturday, but instead of going even par, he finished with a two over, which set up another disastrous start on Sunday, that sent him plummeting even further – Two Bogeys and one double bogeys to kick off the last day.
Was it the pressure? It seemed that everyone struggled with the course at the Olympic Club during the week. Woods wasn’t standing out in that. But again it happened – winning a tournament two weeks earlier and getting everyone pumped up about the return of Tiger. It’s been four years since his last Major Tournament win. He’ll be heading into the British Open with a 16 majors drought.
So if Woods wins anything in the next two months, we’ll be going through the same circus once again. There’s the AT&T National, an event hosted by Tiger Woods and won by him once, in 2009. Followed by the Greenbrier Classic. Win anyone of those, and he’ll be heading as the favorite according to all those waiting so badly for his triumphant return to the top of the sport. Once again, it won’t do him any good.
Because the pressure gets to him. Sooner, later, it’s there eventually. Realizing that he’s closer than he has been in a long time to put four miserable years behind him (in his standards, at least professionally) hurt his play somehow. Maybe it was the paring with Furyk and not with Mickelson or Bubba Watson. Some suggest that the too friendly atmosphere took the edge off Woods’ game, so needed to keep him focused on the second half of the tournament and keep the lead.
Maybe he’s still not there in terms of consistency. The focus just shifts away, and Tiger slides into these slumps when everything about his shots goes wrong. It’s not some technical problem; some adjustment he needs to make with his swing like it was in Augusta. It’s Woods making himself stay the course, something he’s so far been struggling to do.