Column: Once king of the hill, Woods fails to get a foothold in yet another major

  • Article by: JIM LITKE , AP Sports Columnist
  • Updated: August 12, 2013 - 7:00 AM

The 14-time major winner could not muster a challenge at Oak Hill.

hide

Tiger Woods took the driver from his bag on the eighth hole during the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday at Oak Hill.

Photo: Julio Cortez, ASSOCIATED PRESS

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — The red shirt on Sunday and the size of the galleries were the same. So, too, in an odd sort of way, was the early departure.

Tiger Woods was gone from the PGA Championship by early afternoon, 4 over for the tournament and miles from Oak Hill by the time the trophy presentation began. He always said majors were the events he wanted to be measured by, so it should have come as no surprise when a fan reminded him of that, yelling "Masters 2014!" even as Woods trudged his way up the final fairway.

Asked afterward whether it would be tough to wait until next spring to resume his chase of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 career majors, the glazed-over look in Woods' eyes was familiar as well.

"The only time it was really hard was going into '01," he began. "That was really tough because I was asked, basically every day and every round for eight months, 'Is it a grand slam? Are you going to try and win all four?'"

That was at the end of the 2000 season, but it seems like a lifetime ago now. Woods won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in succession that year, roughly the middle of an incredible run when he collected seven majors in four years.

"Then I was in a slump through that period where I didn't win for three (years) or something like that," Woods added a moment later. "I heard it for a very long time. So that was a long wait, too."

Those were three years between his wins in the 2002 U.S. Open and the 2005 Masters. That seems like a lifetime ago, too. Back then, Woods kept insisting he could get even better, so he embarked on a swing overhaul with a new coach and bided his time until history proved him right. That 2005 win at Augusta launched the second great major run of his career — another six titles in four years — ending at the 2008 U.S. Open, where Woods won playing on a broken left leg. He has been stuck on 14 majors since.

The maddening thing about this latest drought — beyond the fact that Woods will be 38 in December, an age when most great champions are done winning majors — is that Woods can still play. Injuries and the self-inflicted sex scandal of late 2009 effectively wiped out the next two seasons. But he won three times last year and five times already this season, including just a week ago at Firestone, where he practically lapped the field by seven strokes.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't this week," Woods said. "Didn't seem to hit it as good and didn't make many putts until the last few holes today. Didn't give myself many looks and certainly didn't hit the ball good enough to be in it.

"Jim is 9-under par right now," Woods continued, referring to leader Jim Furyk who had yet to tee off. "I've had nine birdies through 72 holes."

Exactly why that is remains anyone's guess.

If it's because Woods presses too hard during the majors now, we'll all be a lot older by the time he gets around to admitting it. He certainly knows this litany:

Most of the game's great major champions crested the hill by their mid to late 30s. Bobby Jones retired at 28. Tom Watson and Byron Nelson never won another after 33; Arnold Palmer, 34; and Walter Hagen, 36. Gary Player won only one after 38 and Nick Faldo his last at 39. Ben Hogan was an outlier, winning into his early 40s.

Jack Nicklaus won all but one of his by age 40, covering an 18-year span; and that last one, the 1986 Masters at age 46, was what people mean by "catching lightning in a bottle."

Woods can't rely on that. But neither, it seems, should he rely on trying to play the majors the way he always has — cautiously plotting his way around the game's toughest venues while many of the same golfers he inspired to hit the gym and hit it longer fly by him taking risks. What he's doing at the moment isn't working, at least not in the majors, no matter how hard Woods tries to spin the results.

"Is it concerning? As I said, I've been there in half of them this year," he said referring to his finishes at the Masters (tied for fourth) and last month's British Open (tied for sixth). So that's about right.

"If you are going to be in there for three-quarters, or half of them, with a chance to win on the back nine," he added, "you have just got to get it done."

Good luck with that.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 2 Top 3rd Inning
NY Yankees 1
Washington 2 Top 3rd Inning
Miami 1
Chicago WSox 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 2
NY Mets 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Cleveland - T. Bauer 7:10 PM
Minnesota - P. Hughes
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Seattle - T. Walker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Arizona - C. Anderson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Lackey
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close