SAN DIEGO – You want a Southern California staple? Go to In-N-Out and order the “double-double.” You want to hasten your exit from a frustrating tournament? A little “double-double” can do the trick, too.
Shockingly, Tiger Woods discovered the latter in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open Saturday, his chop jobs at the par-5 18th and then the par-4 first going a long way toward showing him the exit, the first time in 14 starts that he has failed to play on Sunday of this tournament.
Perhaps what made Woods’ third-round 79 most stunning was this: When he stepped onto the 18th tee, his ninth hole, he had birdied No. 17 to get to 2 under for the tournament, and there was every reason to expect him to make another birdie and get within five of the lead at that point.
It was a par 5, after all, the sort of hole on which he has feasted during his unmatched PGA Tour success. But for this week, he would be abysmal on the par 5s – 4 over and birdieless, to be exact – and what happened at No. 18 highlighted his misery.
From 254 yards, Woods ballooned a fairway wood shot high into the air and saw it splash into the water than guarded the front of the green. His fourth shot went long and plugged into a bunker, and although Woods made a nice recovery, he two-putted from 15 feet for a double.
Minutes later, having pushed his approach wide right of the first green, Woods hacked it on, then three-putted from 28 feet for another double.
It’s the first time Woods has made back-to-back double bogeys since the second round of the 2011 PGA Championship – and like that miserable week, Woods will consider the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open a forgettable experience.
Because 83 players had made the 36-hole cut at level par, a second trim after 54 holes is mandated, again to low 70s and ties. Woods never came close as he established a personal record shaded of the dubious variety. He followed the double bogeys at Nos. 18 and 1 with bogeys at the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth – a stretch of seven straight bogey or double bogeys, his worst-ever stretch.
It not only was the first time he put “MDF” next to his name – meaning he made the cut but did not finish – but it’s the highest score since he also shot 79 in Round 3 of the Memorial Tournament last summer. His statistics explained why he headed home: He hit just 18 of 42 fairways (43 percent), 30 of 54 greens (55 percent), and needed an average of 29.33 putts per round.
For tournament officials, it was a double dose of bad news, because with Phil Mickelson having withdrawn late Friday night, it marks the first time since 1997 that the final day at Torrey Pines did not feature either of the two most dominant American players of the last quarter-century.
“It just shows they’re not immune to it, like I am, like we all are,” said Keegan Bradley, who did a double-take when told Woods had shot 79.
Though Woods halted his bogey streak at seven with a birdie at the par-3 seventh, then finished par-par, his inward 42 and three-round total of 6-over 222 beat only one golfer of those who played three rounds: Michael Block, a PGA club pro and section qualifier.
All of which left Woods with a bitter taste in his mouth, so no surprise that he declined to speak with the media. He has a commitment to next week’s Dubai Desert Classic, so presumably the pilots were put on notice that wheels could be up Saturday night, a day earlier than expected.