Tiger goes two and out

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

So many times before, he had been on the brink, his amazing streak hanging by a thread. Then, somehow, Tiger Woods would reach down deep and pull it off.

For 142 consecutive pro golf tournaments, Woods found a way to be in the money. Some weeks it was easy, because there was no cut. But even the best players miss the cut occasionally. Not Tiger.

Not until yesterday, at least.

There he was, on the 18th green of the Cottonwood Valley Course in Dallas, looking at a 15-foot putt to stay at even par after 36 holes. If it dropped, he would play on the weekend, as he has every tournament since early 1998.

Miss, and one of the great records in sports would come to an end.

When the putt settled about an inch outside the hole, the streak was over, ironically at the Byron Nelson Championship. Two years ago Woods passed Nelson's streak of 113 consecutive cuts, accomplished from 1942 to 1948, then added 29 more.

The reason for the streak's demise yesterday was simple. Woods putted poorly both days, using 32 putts on Thursday and 31 yesterday.

Woods often has argued that the streak was, in fact, five tournaments longer. His last official missed cut was at the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He went 76-72 in the first two rounds and when weather delayed the finish by several months, he withdrew, though there's little doubt he would have missed the 54-hole cut had he played.

Previous to that, his only other missed cut as a pro was at the 1997 Canadian Open at Royal Montreal. On that Friday he also missed a par putt on the 36th hole to fall one shot shy.

In the interim, there have been many close calls, but Woods always found a way.

At the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational he was saved by a technicality when he finished 36 holes at 146, one shot too many. But the rules state low 70 "professionals" and Matt Kuchar, an amateur, had shot 142. Thus, all the players at 146, including Woods, made it to the weekend.

Many people remember Woods' amazing bunker shot at the 72nd hole in the 2000 Canadian Open, but his greatest accomplishment that week came two days earlier.

With four holes to go in the second round, he was just one shot inside the cut line, then finished birdie, eagle, birdie, eagle, turning a mediocre round into a 65.

At the 2001 PGA Championship, he holed birdie putts of 40 feet and 30 feet at the 15th and 16th holes, respectively, to make the cut by one.

In Canada, we remember the 2003 Masters because of Mike Weir, but Woods remembers it as an amazing high-wire act. In the second round, he was right on the cut when he birdied the 16th. Then he three-putted the 17th to again sit right on the number. At the 18th, he hit a poor drive, gouged a shot out of the trees into a bunker and got the ball up and in to save himself again.

Where this record stands in the grand scheme of sports is debatable, but it will be many years, if ever, that we see this again. Now that Tiger's string is ended, the longest streak belongs to Ernie Els at 20.

Woods was always proud of this record -- and remember, he has a lot of accomplishments to be proud of -- because it spoke to his professionalism.

"I'm very proud of it," he said last summer at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

"Sometimes I think people take it for granted, but it has lasted for a few years now and that means I've been more consistent than most."

When it was over yesterday, Woods talked for a few moments with the press before ducking out, clearly disappointed.

"What is it? Seven years?" he said. "That's not too bad. I just tried to bandage my way to the finish."

This time, unlike all those other great saves, the bandage wouldn't stop the bleeding.


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