Woods’ rally never materializes
Tiger’s putter fails to come alive in final round of U.S. Open; Furyk wins
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill., June 15 - Tiger Woods finally pulled out his driver Sunday and attacked the course in the final round of the U.S. Open. He might have been better off finding a new putter instead.
A day that began with Woods needing a miraculous round to defend his Open title ended with the world’s best player grumbling again about his putting. He never did make the final-round charge that the masses at Olympia Fields so eagerly anticipated.
Woods finished off a disappointing week with another disappointing round, a 2-over 72 that left him well back in the pack at 3-over 283 for the tournament.
Incredibly, for the first time since 1999, Woods does not hold any of the four major championship titles.
“When you’re playing bad, it’s a lonely world out there,” Woods said.
He hit his driver six times in a bid to be aggressive, after insisting for three rounds that the rarely used club would be of no use on a relatively short Open course like this one.
“Why not? I’d had enough of this,” he said.
It turns out Woods was right. The driver got him closer to the greens, but once on them he couldn’t do a thing.
Officially, Woods took 32 putts; he took 35 in the third round. On the ninth and 10th holes alone, he hit his putter seven times.
“It’s not like I’m playing and can’t hit a shot,” Woods said. “I’m hitting good shots and it’s a matter of making some putts.”
Woods’ strategy of playing Olympia Fields conservatively was questioned after he fell behind with a first round of even-par 70 while many of his competitors were shooting at the flags. He went out Sunday determined to be more aggressive.
It was not only way too late, but it never made a difference.
Woods hit the driver only one time on Saturday — on the 18th hole when it didn’t matter. He ended up with a fat 75 that was his worst score as a pro in the Open.
On Sunday, he pulled it out on the first hole and promptly made a birdie. But he missed makable putts on the next three holes and was never able to get anything going.
Realistically, Woods never had a chance to defend his title after falling 11 shots off the lead. He would have needed the greatest comeback in major championship history to win.
But Woods went out Sunday hanging on to the slimmest of hopes that somehow, somewhere, something dramatic would take place.
“If I would have had absolutely everything going my way, then maybe,” Woods said. “You have to get lucky. You have to play one of the best rounds you’ve ever played in your life and have absolutely everything go your way at the same time. The moons and the stars have to line up perfectly.”
It was clear early that wouldn’t be happening. If Woods needed to be convinced it was over, his four-putt from the fringe on the ninth hole should have been enough. He went on to three-putt the next hole and didn’t make a birdie the rest of the day.
“If you can give it everything you’ve got all the way around you can’t be too disappointed with yourself,” he said. “Obviously I’m a little bummed out by the fact I wasn’t able to stay in contention this week, but that’s all I had this week.”
Woods said he still planned to play at the Buick Classic, which starts Thursday in Harrison, N.Y. And he said his hunger to win may be greater than ever after playing four straight major championships without bringing home a trophy.
“My ultimate goal is to win championships,” he said. “And these are the biggest championships.”