FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – There was disappointment, to be sure. A tinge of frustration. The knowledge that golf is an ever-evolving game and work remains to be done.
But after missing the cut at the PGA Championship on Friday, Tiger Woods didn’t seem all that broken up about it, especially coming off a Masters victory last month that left him emotionally spent.
“Well, it’s a nice problem to have,” Woods said after shooting 73 at Bethpage Black to miss the 36-hole cut by one stroke. “You know, I’ve enjoyed being the Masters champion again and the PGA was a quick turnaround, and unfortunately I just didn’t play well.
“I didn’t do all the little things I need to do correctly to post good scores and put myself in position to shoot good scores.”
It is the first time in his career that Woods missed a cut at a major after winning the previous one. Of course, in winning his first 14 majors from 1997 to 2008, Woods missed just a single cut in major championships – at the 2006 U.S. Open.
After taking the last month off, Woods never looked sharp at Bethpage, where he won the 2002 U.S. Open. He hit just 3 of 14 fairways on Friday and took 61 putts for the two days. He had two double bogeys on Thursday.
And Woods was battling an illness that kept him from practicing on Wednesday.
A run of three straight bogeys to start the back nine doomed him to a weekend off for the first time since the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock. He shot 145, 5 over par, and was 17 strokes behind tournament leader Brooks Koepka, who set a major championship 36-hole scoring record of 128.
Woods beat Koepka by a shot at the Masters but was clearly lacking the same firepower here. The month off without competition and a light practice schedule this week led to a lack of sharpness that doomed him.
“You miss fairways, it’ll catch up with you,” said Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava. “It wasn’t like he was hitting it everywhere. But on this course, 6 feet off the fairway and you’re screwed. And obviously his feel was off on the greens.
“He didn’t say anything about being hurt, but he came out of that 9-iron (approach) on 14 and the sand wedge on the last hole. Which is very unlike him. I don’t think he’s hurting, but those are shots where he had nice yardages on both. That’s not typical Tiger.”
Woods had just 112 yards in on the 18th hole for a birdie that could have made the cut on the number. But he hit a poor shot to 44 feet. “The par putt I figured he’d have for birdie,” LaCava said.
For Woods, 43, it is just the 19th missed cut of his professional career on the PGA Tour (20th worldwide). For perspective, Koepka, 29, has missed 18. It was Woods’ ninth missed cut in a major.
After an opening-round 72, Woods needed to shoot no worse than 2 over par to make the cut and seemed in decent shape after a birdie at the ninth hole. But Woods hit just one fairway over the first nine holes and that inaccuracy off the tee cost him as he continued to miss them on the back nine.
Woods would not use skipping a tournament between the Masters and PGA as an excuse.
“No, no no. Definitely not,” he said. “I’m the Masters champion and 43 years old, and that’s a pretty good accomplishment.
“I just wasn’t moving the way I needed to. That’s the way it goes. There’s going to be days and weeks where it’s just not going to work, and today was one of those days.”
Woods, ranked sixth in the world, is expected to play the Memorial Tournament in two weeks prior to next month’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
“There’s no reason why I can’t get up to speed again and crank it back up,” Woods said. “I’ve got to start feeling a little bit better first before that happens. We’ll do that first and then start cranking it back up again.”