July 22, 2012
Royal Lytham brings Tiger to his knees
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND - Tiger Woods took a knee at the British Open.
Then he took a triple bogey.
Woods, searching for his 15th major and first since winning the U.S. Open in 2008, saw his quest for the British Open title suffer a mortal blow with a triple-bogey seven on the long, par-4 sixth hole Sunday. He wound up shooting 73 and tied for third, four shots back of winner Ernie Els.
Woods said he was a yard away from hitting a great approach with a 5-iron, but the ball wound up against the face of a greenside bunker to the left and things went from bad to worse from there.
Woods thought about playing the ball left, but there was a lot of sand on the right side of the ball and he didn't think that would work.
"The game plan was to fire it into the bank, have it ricochet to the right and then have an angle to come back at it," said Woods. "Unfortunately it ricocheted to the left and almost hit me. Then I tried to play an interesting shot after that and ended up three-putting."
The carom off the face of the bunker had Woods dancing to avoid a penalty for having his ball hit him. The ball came to rest against the left side of the bunker. Woods couldn't get in the bunker to play it, so dropped to his left knee -- the one with the surgically repaired ACL -- and splayed out his right leg.
His next shot -- all arms -- caught the top of the bunker face and bounced to the front of the green and he three-putted from there.
"Bad shot, bad break, bad decision, 3 putt," was the way former Woods coach Hank Haney described it on Twitter.
Woods had a conservative game plan this week, limiting his use of the driver, to navigate his way around Royal Lytham & St. Annes bunkers. He defended the strategy Sunday, saying there was nothing to be gained by bringing out the big stick -- he just needed to hit his tee balls with the clubs he selected better.
Woods winless streak in the majors is now at 17 (four missed because of injury), the longest of his career.
"It's part of golf. We all go through these phases," said Woods of his dry spell. "Some people, it lasts entire careers. Others are a little bit shorter. Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this. When your playing careers last 40 and 50 years, you're going to have stretches like this."