Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tiger Woods misses cut, leaves PGA Championship in disarray

Tiger Woods continues to say his new swing is a work in progress, but following one of the worst major championship weeks of his career, it's hard to see any positives in the direction his swing, and career, are headed.

Woods entered the PGA Championship with numerous questions regarding the state of his game and health. Most were hoping that he could answer a few of those questions in his second tournament back after a three-month layoff, but following his first missed cut in 14 PGA Championship appearances, Woods left Atlanta Athletic Club with more questions than answers.

Friday got off to a quiet start, as Woods parred the first four holes of the day. But as usual, the rollercoaster ride began. He bogeyed two of the next three holes, before carding back-to-back birdies to finish his front nine at even par.

For a moment it seemed like he was turning things around, as he finally started to look comfortable for the first time since Thursday morning. But in typical Woods fashion, he gave all the shots back and then some on the 11th and 12th, double-bogeying both holes to end his hopes of playing this weekend.

The stats for Woods weren't pretty this week. Aside from finishing a full six shots outside the cut line, his missed cut also marked only the fourth time in his career that he won't be around for the weekend at a major championship.

He also recorded 5 double bogeys at Atlanta Athletic Club, the first time in his career that he's had that many in an entire tournament. The worst part was he was able to accomplish that feat in just 30 holes. Despite what Woods may say, there were no silver linings this week. His game has officially hit rock bottom.

Anytime you stub a 22-foot birdie putt and leave it 7 feet short of the hole, something Woods did during Friday's round, you know something's seriously wrong. His swing looked rushed for most of his 36 holes, as he tried to find a balance in-between snap-hooks off the tee.

Woods has made numerous swing changes over his career with Butch Harmon and Hank Haney, but it's safe to say the changes he's working on with Sean Foley at the moment have produced the worst result he could have ever imagined.

But the thing is, you can't place the blame on Foley for Woods' current swing flaws. The lack of consistent practice has led to a steep learning curve, one that even Woods hasn't been able to master.

It's hard to say where Tiger goes from here, but based on his current play, it's obvious the one thing he absolutely needs at the moment is more tournament reps and practice with Foley.

The difficult part is we don't know when he'll get those reps. His missed cut at the PGA means he won't qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and after declining a chance to play next week in Charlotte, the next possible time we could see him would be September 29th in Las Vegas as the first Fall Series event.

There's only one problem: he's never played the Fall Series. If he doesn't change his usual schedule, it means the next time we could see Woods in an official PGA Tour event could be in late January 2012 at Torrey Pines. He could play abroad between now and then -- he's scheduled to play the Australian Open in Sydney, on Nov. 10-13 -- but the chances of fans seeing him are going to be few and far between.

Assuming he waits until November, that would be another three-month hiatus, which is an incredibly long time to wait for another Woods appearance. And considering how poorly he played at the PGA Championship, Woods can't wait that long if he wants to get his game, and career, back on track.

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