Tiger Woods acknowledges the gallery after putting on the 18th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Saturday, June 15, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Tiger Woods hits down the 18th hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Sunday, June 16, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Woods matches worst score in a major
ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — This isn’t the kind of record Tiger Woods had in mind at the U.S. Open.
Woods went out-of-bounds on his second tee shot of the final round at Merion and closed with a 4-over 74. That gave him his worst 72-hole score as a pro in the U.S. Open, and it tied for his high score in any major.
“I did a lot of things right,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I did a few things wrong, as well.”
Woods finished at 13-over 293.
His previous high score in a U.S. Open was 290 at The Olympic Club in 1998 and Shinnecock Hills in 2004. Woods shot 294 at Oakland Hills in 1996 as an amateur.
Just two days ago, Woods was four shots out of the lead and very much in the hunt to end his five-year drought in the majors. Then, he went 76-74 for his worst weekend in a major championship. Just over two weeks ago, the world’s No. 1 player had won three of his last four events on the PGA Tour and was starting to establish his dominance.
But he looked ordinary at Merion.
Starting the final round 10 shots behind, Woods made a birdie putt on the opening hole. Instead of a fist pump, he offered only a mild wave. Whatever hopes he had of at least getting his name on the leaderboard ended quickly. Woods pushed his tee shot to the right on the par-5 second hole, over the trees and out-of-bounds. His next tee shot was close to going out-of-bounds, stopping a few yards away in front of a tree. He wound up with a triple bogey.
It was his only big number of the week, though his 20 bogeys were startling.
“I struggled with the speed all week,” Woods said. “These greens are grainy. It’s one of the older bent grasses — creeping bent. I struggled with the speed, especially right around the hole. Putts were breaking a lot more. I gave it a little more break and then it would hang. That’s kind of the way it was this week.”
The 293 matched his high score at any major, last year at the Masters when he tied for 40th.
Woods did not mention any pain in his left elbow, though he kept that a mystery throughout the week. He was flexing and shaking his left hand on shots out of the rough early in the week, saying only that it was painful. He later revealed that he first hurt it at The Players Championship last month, which he won. But he didn’t mention the shot or even which round it happened.
Merion remained a mystery for Woods throughout the week. For the first time since Olympic in 1998 — the year he was rebuilding his swing — he failed to break par in any of the four rounds at a U.S. Open.
“It played tricky. The rough was up,” Woods said. “They were raking the rough up every morning into the grain, and the pins were really tough.”
Woods plays again in two weeks at the AT&T National at Congressional, where he is the defending champion. His next major is the British Open at Muirfield, where in 2002 he was going for the calendar Grand Slam until he got caught in a vicious weather pattern of a cold, sideways rain and shot 81 to fall from contention. The final major of the year is at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship, where 10 years ago Woods never shot better than 72 and wound up at 12-over 292.
“There’s always a lesson to be learned in every tournament, whether you win or lose,” Woods said. “I’ll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong.”