TULSA, Okla. – Tiger Woods produced a few firsts on Saturday, no reason for a fist pump. He posted his best-ever score in the PGA Championship, then withdrew from a major tournament for the first time in his professional career.
Hours after Woods battled his way to a 9 of 79 in the third round at Southern Hills, he informed the PGA of America of his withdrawal.
Anyone who saw the staggering footsteps of a battered right leg 15 months ago in a car crash shouldn’t have been surprised. Woods declined media interviews after his tour, speaking only to a poolside reporter.
He was asked if days like this – severe pain, high scoring – make him question the process needed to play and if he would do it on Sunday.
“Well, it hurts. I know that is a fact,” he said. “We will work and see how it goes.”
The PGA of America announced its withdrawal after the end of the third round. Woods was 21 strokes behind Mito Pereira of Chile, who took a three stroke lead in the final round.
For Woods, attention now turns to next month at the US Open. When he made the cut at the Masters in his first walk and compete against the best since the February 2021 car crash in Los Angeles, he said he would be at the British Open at St. Andrews in July.
He didn’t mention the PGA Championship or the US Open, wanting to gauge his recovery. But he took a trip to Southern Hills in the weeks leading up to the PGA and said he felt better than at the Masters.
It only lasted a while.
Though he grimaced at times, Woods produced his most convincing golf on Friday afternoon as he rallied to make the cut with a series of clutch putts and short game magic.
Woods has played in pain throughout his career, most memorably the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines which he won with a double stress fracture in his left leg and torn ligaments in his left knee that required surgery. end of season at the end.
But on Saturday, treading cautiously on a course sodden by half an inch of early morning rain, he was right to wonder if making the cut was worth it.
“I didn’t do anything good,” Woods said after hitting a par 5-foot putt on the 18th to break 80. “I didn’t hit a lot of good shots. fairly high score.
It wasn’t his worst in a major. There was that 81 at the 2002 British Open in the raging wind and freezing cold of Muirfield that ended his Grand Slam hopes. He had an 80 in Chambers Bay at the 2015 US Open as he recovered from the first of what would be five back surgeries.
It was painful to watch, and not just the sloppy play with wedges and two waterballs.
Much like the weekend at the Masters, his first competition since the February 2021 car crash that maimed his right leg, the lameness became more pronounced as the day went on.
And the weather – the 50 degrees, compared to a heat index approaching triple digits earlier in the week – didn’t help.
“You feel so sorry that he has to go through this,” said Shaun Norris, the South African who played with Woods in front of a large but certainly not the size gallery of the previous two days.
“But again, you also see the type of person he is, that he goes through everything and pushes himself, even all the pain and that,” Norris said. “It’s not easy to see a guy like him go through this and struggle like this. He’s rocking it well, and I think he’ll be back once he gets back to normal health and sorts out all the issues.
Woods chose not to speak to the media, instead offering some thoughts to a poolside reporter. He didn’t address one of the obvious issues, which is distance control. Whether the ball didn’t fly as far due to the cold or its speed was slower than he thought, there were two occasions when Woods was stunned to see where his ball landed.
One was on the par-3 sixth hole, when Woods’ shot not only went short, but it hit the water. He put his next short shot into the shaggy pass, missed a chip and walked away with a triple bogey.
And that was only the beginning.
Woods made five consecutive bogeys from the ninth hole. One of them was on the par-3 11, when he landed on an 8-iron to see it land short – well short. He looked at his shopping cart and said, “It’s below the bunker!”
His pitch up the hill had so much pace that he was running onto the green and down the slope, and he had to do a 4-footer to get away with a bogey. It was hole after similar location up the hill a little further, set on the top shelf of a green. The pin was in the front.
And then on the par-5 13th, when a daring play to get over the green on the first cut of rough and in a high wind seemed to pay off, his 100ft throw went 35ft beyond from the pin and off the green. A probable birdie turned into a bogey.
“Can’t get off the bogey train,” he said.
Even when it looked like a lost cause and there were times when it looked like his right knee was starting to twist, Woods rarely rushed a shot or putt.
The only bright spot was a 35-foot birdie putt on the 15th, and Woods forced a smile as he slid his right index finger in the air to score his first birdie of the day.
It was also his only one.
He spoke on Friday about needing a hot round, and it wasn’t available to him on a cold day. He finally decided that it wasn’t worth starting over.