June 17, 2012
Enough Tiger already!
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency
As we waited for the leaders to tee off in the fourth round of the U.S. Open, we got a clear picture, despite the fog, that it’s time to balance ratings with reality in respect to Tiger Woods who, at one point, was waltzing to a win if you listened to his fans in the gallery and media.
Tiger was coming off a win at the Memorial.
Tiger had a game plan.
Tiger was focused.
Tiger was tied for the 36-hole lead and you know what he’s like when he’s in control.
It was, at that point on Friday, Tiger’s tournament to lose, forget about co-leader Jim Furyk.
Then, Woods struggled with the speed of the greens and, to be frank, he wasn’t hitting it all that well in an ugly 75 on Saturday.
At five shots off the lead, he had to do what he doesn’t do by coming from behind on Sunday.
Many of the names ahead of Woods on the leaderboard including the eventual 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, who knocked on the door all day, were ignored as Tiger’s task was probed and analyzed, magnifying what was to come when Woods dropped out of sight.
By the time, he concluded the nasty first six holes at the Olympic Club, Woods was six over on that now-legendary stretch, including a double bogey on the par-3 third.
In other words, he was human just like everybody else in the field and fell into the same trap.
With the leaders now teeing off, the U.S. Open got strange as it suddenly became about golf, not ratings or popularity personified by Woods.
Woods steadied himself after the disastrous six and came in with three birdies to finish with a 73 and a seven-over score for the tournament.
All the cheerleaders can hope for now is that Tiger wins just before next month’s British Open to jazz up the proceedings at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, just as he did prior to the Masters and U.S. Open before fading.
There’s the thing. Woods is a two-time winner this season and still one of the top players on the PGA Tour, but analysis goes beyond the player in question to the competitors he’s facing.
The preoccupation with Tiger is more intense now than when he was dominating the majors.
It should not be overly surprising that Woods’ major-less streak has gone for more than four years now and that’s not to say he won’t win another.
It’s just that with all the new talent since he was on top of his game, he’s going to have to work that much harder.
It’s ludicrous to ignore Tiger, but just as ridiculous to not consider all possibilities.
A KINDER 16TH
Before it was moved up by 101 yards to 569 yards on Sunday, the par-5 16th, which had played as long as 670 yards, was the fourth toughest on the golf course, playing to a stroke average of 5.407, and serving up just 26 birdies and 207 pars, compared to 125 bogeys, 21 double bogeys and five other scores above a double. The 16th didn’t get much easier as illustrated by Furyk’s bogey there Sunday, which left Simpson in the lead ... Pin placements were set up on the par-4 seventh and the par-5 17th to provide some scoring opportunities ... As Phil Mickelson wound down his fourth round, it was becoming interesting to see if he would finish ahead of home club guy Michael Allen, who wrapped it up with a 73 to finish 14 over, an inflated figure that came after the two-time 2012 Champions Tour winner shot a third-round 77. Mickelson wound up shooting a Sunday 78 to finish behind Allen at 16 over after withdrawing from the Memorial a couple of weeks ago, saying he needed to focus on the Open. Must have been the San Francisco fog that affected his focus ... That was Mickelson’s worst U.S. Open round since he had a 79 in the 1994 Open at Oakmont ... His 69 on Sunday is liable to generate more talk about Davis Love III playing the Ryder Cup, where he will serve as U.S. captain. The only way Love should play is if he makes the top 10, which he won’t since he was 42nd last week. There’s no way a captain’s pick should be used on a 48-year-old, with so much young talent around ... Don’t know about you, but watching Ernie Els’ ball roll away from the front of the green at the par-3 eighth hole, which he bogeyed, brought back some nasty deja vu for me. The only thing I couldn’t relate to was his eagle on the previous hole ... Amateur Patrick Cantlay said he’s still considering turning pro after shooting a final-round 72 to finish 11-over. He currently plays for UCLA ... For all the talk about Beau Hossler getting a piece of the lead earlier in the tournament, he took a wild ride Sunday with seven bogeys, a double-bogey on 18 and three birdies to finish with a 76 that left him at nine over for the tournament and second among amateurs. Low amateur honours instead went to Jordan Spieth, who was seven over.