With his driver misbehaving, Tiger Woods went to his trusty 3-wood for most of the final round today in Charlotte, NC.
The 3-wood behaved. His putter, though, did not. Woods shot a final-round 72 today, but it was the extremely talented Sean O’Hair who posted a 1-shot win at Quail Hollow CC for his 3rd career victory on TOUR.
O’Hair (-11) had the tournament wrapped up before a bogey-bogey finish, missing an 8-footer for par at #18 that would have sealed the deal. Even then, Lucas Glover made bogey at #17 to fall out of a tie for the lead and then couldn’t make birdie at #18 to force a playoff. It wasn’t pretty, but O’Hair gets the 1st place check.
As for Woods, he’s now only won 1 of the 4 stroke play events he’s played this year, but he’s been in the Top 10 in the three he didn’t win. That would be acceptable-to-the-max for just about anyone else outside the Top 5 in the world, of course.
I’m sure it’s not acceptable for the 14-time major champion, as he winds up losing today’s tournament by two shots and had a back-9 escapade that you’ll likely NEVER see from him again in a final round. He failed to birdie either of the reachable par-5’s on the homeward nine and he drove the par 4 14th hole (with his 3 wood…317 yards) only to three putt from 25 feet when an eagle would have tied him for the lead.
Woods finished the event at -9…and shot -7 on day one, Thursday morning. For those counting at home, he played the final 54 holes in -2. That’s incredibly average for ANY decent TOUR player, let alone the best player in the history of the game.
Tiger’s not in danger of pulling a David Duval, obviously…I *think* he’s gonna win again someday (Tiger, not Duval). But his last two events – The Masters and this week’s Charlotte event – have displayed an error prone Woods that we haven’t witnessed much over time. His driver is as reliable as Judge Smails’ big stick was in “Caddyshack” — and that’s leaving him with difficult approach shots and a bucket-full of 6-foot par putts instead of looks at birdie.
When Woods eschewed the #1 club and went with the 3-wood early in round 4, he found the groove off the tee and then couldn’t buy a putt until a bird at #8 got him going. Or, maybe not. He failed to birdie #10, the par-5, and then came the 15-handicap 3-jack at #14 that all but sealed his fate. He did finesse an absolutely terrific 35-yard bunker shot on #17 to save par but missed a 10-footer at #18 for birdie that was nothing more than foul-tasting icing on a dry cake. He made 9 pars on the back nine with the tournament on the line. That wouldn’t win him the club championship at Mountain Branch — let alone win on the PGA TOUR.
The funny thing about Woods — when he plays poorly, he comes within a few missed putts on the back nine of winning the tournament. When the rest of the great unwashed play poorly, they watch from somewhere else over the weekend. Sergio Garcia, Stewart Cink, Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh — all GREAT players, of course — missed the cut in Charlotte and headed to Sawgrass for early practice sessions in preparation for this week’s Player’s Championship. Woods’ version of “poorly” is -9 for four rounds. All the other humans shoot +6 for two rounds when they play poorly and tip the locker room guy $50 less than they would if they had made the cut.
Tiger wasn’t the only player to come unglued on Sunday. Zach Johnson started the day with a 2-shot lead, made a triple-bogey 6 at the par-3 second hole, and wasn’t heard from again. Bubba Watson drove the ball so far on several holes on Sunday that he took a short flight to get to his ball in the fairway — but he couldn’t get the ball in the hole with HIS putter, either, and is still trying to break into the winner’s circle despite hitting the golf ball farther than a human being should be allowed to hit it. Glover needed to birdie #18 to force a playoff but launched his 2nd shot 15 yards too far — unacceptable for a player of his stature with the whole shootin’ match on the line — and his par at the final hole gave him a 2nd place tie with Big Bubba.
And they all pack up for Ponte Vedra Beach now…with the “5th major” at stake this week at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods does not play Sawgrass well…he has one win there as a pro (’01) and a victory there in the U.S. Amateur — so a triumph in The Players next week would be somewhat surprising. In fact, in my golf fantasy-league, I won’t make Tiger one of my three picks.
That said, his “C” game on Sunday was nearly good enough to beat a bunch of “B+” players, so Tiger merely needs to get his driver straightened out and he’ll have a chance of contending this week.
Straightening the driver out, though, is easier said than done.
For Sean O’Hair, Sunday was further indication that he’s truly one of the game’s bright young stars. He hits it a mile and finds most of the greens in regulation. He didn’t make a putt outside of 10 feet all week — an amazing stat, actually — but still won the golf tournament. He’s boring as heck. Drive, fairway, approach, green. But, it works. And he hits it close enough on a bunch of holes to sweep in a few short range birdie putts and suddenly he’s in the lead with 9 holes to go. He’s a major champion in the making, probably at an event like the U.S. Open where fairways and greens are vital and putting is more of a 2-putt exercise than anything else. Watch him at Bethpage in six weeks.
Breaking news: Tiger Woods is human.
Or, at least, the one who played the back nine at Quail Hollow CC was, right?
Let’s see if “the other” Woods shows up at Sawgrass this week.