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Tiger Woods makes dark admission after missed US Open cut

Tiger Woods makes dark admission after missed US Open cut
Tiger Woods makes dark admission after missed US Open cut

 


By: Josh Berhow June 14, 2024

Tiger Woods missed the cut at the US Open on Friday.

Getty Images

PINEHURST, N.C. The worker was wearing dirty jeans and a yellow reflective vest. He sat in his utility cart, in front of the road crossing in front of Pinehurst No. 2's 15th tee, and waited. Another group arrived and had to start before the volunteers removed the ropes and opened the passage.

So for now, it was time for a break. Until he realized who was about to start.

“Hey, Tiger’s on the tee,” he said to his buddy in the cart behind him. “Let’s go up.”

The grown men rose from their seats and huddled against the ropes, joining hundreds of other fans straining to get a look.

Friday evening at Pinehurst, the plan for the weekend was largely set. We knew Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy were going to start late Saturday. We knew that Ludvig Aberg and Patrick Cantlay would join them as soon as they were finished. We knew Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Max Homa and Viktor Hovland were heading home.

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Other storylines were few and far between, with the exception of Tiger Woods. He had a late start Friday and the Pinehurst faithful had to wait for him. But the real question was: would he stay two more days?

Woods shot 74 on Thursday; he drove it beautifully (12 out of 14 fairways) but hit his irons poorly (9 out of 18 greens). Usually it's the opposite formula. He knew he had to, at worst, aim for around par to qualify Friday, but even-par days aren't easy at the U.S. Open.

He had just one over for the day at the turn, but he made another bogey at 12. On 13, he missed an 8-footer for birdie. At the 14th, he failed to drain a 20-footer for birdie. When he reached the 15th tee, around 5:30 p.m. local time, Woods had two points for his round and six for the tournament. At this point, it was almost certain that the reduction would be five, or even four.

There are four holes left. He knew the goal. He needed a birdie.

The Village and NBC Sports corporate tents were lined up on either side of the par-3 15th. It was still very hot, although a slight breeze helped. It was a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening watching Woods chase a weekend spot.

Woods closed it to 16 feet for what would likely be his last best chance at birdie, and when he hit the putt and saw it heading toward the hole, he couldn't help but picking up that lead front foot, preparing to bring it in. himself, a gesture we've seen from him hundreds of times. But he didn't listen. It took an edge. Woods leaned forward. The crowd groans.

Tiger Woods reacts to a missed putt on the 15th hole at the US Open on Friday. Getty Images

“Yeah, 15 hurt,” Woods said later, after signing for 73 and missing the cut by two. “If I make that putt, it reverses the momentum, and I look pretty good on the last three holes, and instead I'm on the wrong side of the cut line.”

Despite support from fans sweating outside the ropes, Woods' 74-73 score (seven over) wasn't enough to make his first U.S. Open weekend in five years. He made another birdie shot at the 16th, but a bad putt behind the green led to a bogey. He aced the last two holes.

“My ball striking and I felt like my putting was good enough to be in contention, and I’m not,” Woods said. “Yes, it’s frustrating because I’m not here to have a chance to win this weekend.”

Woods then answered four questions from the media. One confirmed he only had one start left this season, the Open Championship, and another led to a darker realization.

10 Surprising Players Who Missed the US Open Cut at Pinehurst No. 2 By: Zephyr Melton

Asked if at any point this week he thought this might be his last U.S. Open, Woods said: “It may or may not.”

It was a surprising frankness, and it might have struck some people, but he was only stating facts. Woods is not exempt for future U.S. Opens, just as he was not this year. He received a special invitation from the USGA, which will likely be offered to him in perpetuity, or at least until he no longer wants it. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, among others, also received special exemptions.

But majors (and big weekends) with Woods, who is 48, are hardly guaranteed these days. The wounds. The car accident. The (lack of) representatives. Over the previous eight years, he played only half of golf's majors, from which he withdrew twice. If Woods plays the Open Championship next month, it will be the first time in four years that he has played every major in one year.

Woods' farewell to the US Open may not be imminent, but his words Friday night reminded us that nothing lasts forever.

Josh Berhow Golf.com Editor

As editor-in-chief of GOLF.com, Berhow manages the day-to-day and long-term planning for one of the most widely read news and services websites in sports. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he will ever make it to 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota, he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two children. You can reach him at [email protected].

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