Tracker: McIlroy wins WGC-Bridgestone
Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was filled with drama before the lead group even reached the midpoint of the front nine.
Rory McIlroy caught and passed Sergio Garcia, one of many on PGA Tour this year to open a big 54-hole lead, for a win that puts him on the verge of again becoming World No. 1 in golf.
"What I'm really proud of this week is just following up the Open with a performance like this, McIlroy told CBS. "I said straight after I didn't want any letdown. I just want to keep going."
Phil Mickelson showed the form that's eluded him this year, an 8-under 62 sending him to the clubhouse T-11 at 5 under – despite a rain delay hampering his round.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, struggled on the front nine before citing injury and withdrawing abruptly on the ninth hole.
Recap Sunday's twists and turns at Firestone CC right here – and scroll down for previous coverage!
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Update No. 30: 7:03 p.m. EDT
Perfect speed on leader Rory McIlroy's long birdie putt likely means this tourney is settled. Sergio Garcia's putt also is close. The two tap in and McIlroy is your winner.
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Update No. 29: 6:58 p.m. EDT
Both finding the fairway off the tee, leader Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia keep fighting to the end. Garcia's approach shot is first from the left side, and is roughtly pin high on the right side of the green; he grimaces a bit, but it's in birdie range. McIlroy follows from the right side and puts it in the middle. A good lag by the leader should wrap this up.
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Update No. 28: 6:51 p.m. EDT
Sergio Garcia forces the issue with his approach at the 17th, hitting it close to the back pin while leader Rory McIlroy finds the front of the green. McIlroy burns the edge and taps in for par, putting a little pressure on Garcia – who in turn misses low and will tap in as well. He'll need a two-shot swing at the last to force a playoff.
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Update No. 27: 6:39 p.m. EDT
With a solid, long birdie effort, leader Rory McIlroy secures par at the 16th. Sergio Garcia has a chance to cut his deficit in half, but his putt just misses and he's still two back – with two holes to play. Tall order for the Spaniard, who has little momentum on his side and just one birdie all day.
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Update No. 26: 6:34 p.m. EDT
Leader Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia find the green safely in three at the long, par-5 16th. Putting contest to follow.
Adam Scott cards a third straight bogey and slips to T-8 at 7 under, placing his World No. 1 status in the OWGR at risk with McIlroy in control.
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Update No. 25: 6:22 p.m. EDT
Trouble for Sergio Garcia at the par-3 15th, as his tee shot settles in the rough on the outer edge of the left-side bunker, short-sided to the left-side pin. Leader Rory McIlroy is on the green in what looks like two-putt territory. Garcia's chip finds the green, but well past the pin. McIlroy's first putt comes up well short and he marks; Garcia's par try goes a couple of feet past. McIlroy makes par and Garcia makes bogey as the lead grows to two with three holes to play.
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Update No. 24: 6:14 p.m. EDT
Leader Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia again trade pars as their duel continues with a one-shot margin.
Back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 14-15 drop Adam Scott to eighth at 8 under. A McIlroy win could put Scott's World No. 1 ranking in jeopardy.
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Update No. 23: 6:04 p.m. EDT
Let's check in on the top five players in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and how they're faring this week:
- 1. Jim Furyk: T-14, 5 under (1-under 69 today)
- 2. Adam Scott: T-5, 9 under (1 under through 14)
- 3. Sergio Garcia: Second, 14 under (even par through 13)
- 4. Steve Stricker: T-63, 12 over (3-over 73)
- 5. Rory McIlroy: Leader, 15 under (4 under through 13)
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Update No. 22: 5:57 p.m. EDT
Sergio Garcia gives a long birdie putt a go at the 13th, but has to settle for a tap-in par. Leader Rory McIlroy rolls in a 5-footer for birdie and the margin remains one shot.
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Update No. 21: 5:42 p.m. EDT
Leader Rory McIlroy gives himself a birdie look at the par-3 12th while Sergio Garcia hits his tee shot in the left-side bunker. He manages the sand save after McIlroy's putt misses, and the lead is one with six to play.
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Update No. 20: 5:32 p.m. EDT
Rory McIlroy reclaims the lead with a birdie at the 11th, as Sergio Garcia has a chance to anwer and just misses. The Open Championship winner is up one with seven holes to play against a golfer McIlroy has said he grew up a fan of.
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Update No. 19: 5:21 p.m. EDT
Co-leader Sergio Garcia gets another approach shot into birdie range, settling this one maybe 10 feet or a little less behind the back-right pin. Co-leader Rory McIlroy follows suit to the back of the green, but is farther left and facing a longer putt – which stops just on the front lip of the hole as he settles for par. Back to Garcia, who pushes his putt right and a bit long. The two remain tied for the lead.
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Update No. 18: 5:14 p.m. EDT
Adam Scott birdies the 10th hole to move into fifth at 10 under. The World No. 1 from Australia is 2 under today on the heels of a third-round 65. Ready for Valhalla, anyone?
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Update No. 17: 5:09 p.m. EDT
Sergio Garcia's first birdie of the day comes just befrore the turn and gets him back to 14 under, tying Rory McIlroy – who nearly sinks a birdie putt as well, but it's just a bit too fast and instead lips out 270 degrees. They'll restart their duel on the 10th tee with Keegan Bradley two shots back at 12 under.
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Update No. 16: 5:01 p.m. EDT
Unable to convert a sand save after missing the eighth green, leader Rory McIlroy sees his lead shrink to one shot over Sergio Garcia. Sure seems this will be settled on the back nine.
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Update No. 15: 4:46 p.m. EDT
Keegan Bradley birdies No. 7 to get his round to 3 under and climb to T-3 at 11 under alongside Marc Leishman. Leader Rory McIlroy remains 15 under with Sergio Garcia two shots back, as they trade pars at the sixth and seventh holes.
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Update No. 14: 4:31 p.m. EDT
Nearly lost in all the other riveting developments so far today is Lee Westwood's bogey-free 63. The Englishman carded four straight birdies at Nos. 7-10 to jump to 4 under for the week.
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Update No. 13: 4:23 p.m. EDT
Fantastic tee shot and solid putt for Rory McIlroy at the par-3 fifth hole, and he's made birdie to get to 15 under and stretch his lead to two shots over Sergio Garcia. Quite a statement so far from the man who lost a Sunday lead at the Honda Classic in March, then fell in a playoff.
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Update No. 12: 4:14 p.m. EDT
Leader Rory McIlroy watches Sergio Garcia miss from the collar, then takes aim at another birdie putt – which grazes the left edge. Both take par, McIlroy's ending his birdie streak, and move on.
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Update No. 11: 4:07 p.m. EDT
With three straight birdies to start his round and a bogey from overnight leader Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy has taken the lead in a hurry. Big Sunday leads haven't been easy to protect this year on Tour, but this is some rare early drama.
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Update No. 10: 3:45 p.m. EDT
Rory McIlroy reaches the green in two at the par-5 second hole, but can't sink the eagle putt of about 25-30 feet. Birdie gets him to 13 under. Leader Sergio Garcia is greenside in two and can't get up and down for birdie – meaning McIlroy has quickly cut the lead to a shot.
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Update No. 9: 3:42 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson says he hopes his game has "clicked" heading into the PGA Championship.
"You could really it coming after that solid 71-73 start, so, I don't know what to say, it kind of came out of nowhere," Mickelson quipped with a little self-effacing humor to CBS. "But I've been saying I feel like I'm close, I'm close, and then the first two rounds here really threw me for a loop."
Mickelson said his short irons had been a problem of late. Problem solved, at least on Sunday.
"Today it was right on. It was right on distance control and spin and everything," he said. "I made a lot of birdies. It was nice."
"Today was a big day for me though, because it really gives me a lot of confidence and momentum heading into next week. I feel like instead of trying to search and find it on Thursday, I feel like it kind of clicked today. And if I can carry that momentum into the (first) round, if I play well next week I'll look back to today's round as being kind of the key.
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Update No. 8: 3:36 p.m. EDT
Leader Sergio Garcia pulls his approach to the left collar, after which Rory McIlroy hits a fantastic shot out of the rough to inside 5 feet. Garcia misses his putt low, McIlroy sinks his birdie putt and the challenger has picked up an unlikely shot – narrowing Garcia's margin to two shots.
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Update No. 7: 3:24 p.m. EDT
Leader Sergio Garcia starts his round with a tee shot piped down the middle. His closest pursuer, Champion Golfer of the Year Rory McIlroy, misses left and is in the rough amid tree trouble. Not exactly the way a three-shot lead tends to evaporate.
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Update No. 6: 3:12 p.m. EDT
So, there's the Phil Mickelson folks love: Missing the 18th fairway, he gets it in the throat of the 18th green, then wedges on and spins it to a stop pin-high and inside 5 feet. The putt falls and he'll sign for an 8-under 62, his best round amid an otherwise disappointing year. Hmmm, peaking in time for the PGA Championship, FedEx Cup and Ryder Cup?
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Update No. 5: 3:02 p.m. EDT
The hits just keep coming for Phil Mickelson – who birdies the 16th and 17th to give him three in a row. Mickelson is eight under for the day, charging to T-10 at 5 under with one hole to play.
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Update No. 4: 2:31 p.m. EDT
It would be an overstatement to say Phil Mickelson can't miss, given his trouble before birdieing the 13th, but he hits his tee shot at the par-3 15th pin high and maybe 5 feet or a little more right – then sinks the putt to get to 6 under for his round, T-25 at 3 under alongside Lee Westwood, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
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Update No. 3: 2:24 p.m. EDT
Graeme McDowell pitches in for eagle at the par-5 second hole, getting to T-8 at 5 under. He's nine back of leader Sergio Garcia, who tees off in about an hour alongside Rory McIlroy.
Phil Mickelson nearly holes a moderate-length birdie putt at the 14th but settles for par to remain 5 under for the day, T-27 at 2 under.
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Update No. 2: 2:16 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson birdies again, this time at the par-4 13th after finding trouble and laying up – then holing out from about 100 yards. His approach shots have been true much of the day, but this takes the cake. He's 5 under for his round, T-27 at 2 under.
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Update No. 1: 2:07 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson adds a birdie at No. 10, following a bogey two holes earlier, and after a couple of pars is 4 under for his round today. That's got him T-33 at 1 under for the week.
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Hole No. 9: Par 4, 494 yards
• Tee to green: Tiger takes a good-looking swing at this one – and stills himself while grimacing a bit before picking up his tee. Farther down the hole, Tiger gets into a cart and withdraws from the tournament.
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Hole No. 8: Par 4, 482 yards
• Tee to green: Talk about needing a par. Tiger, however, misses well right again, meaning three greenside bunkers are between his lie in the rough and the pin. He's got the right idea from there, though, playing to the center of the green and hitting it pin high for a somewhat-long birdie try.
• On the green: Good speed, decent line, but it drifts past on the left and Tiger taps in for par. Tiger on the day: 3 over; T-47 at 4 over.
• Elsewhere on the course: Matt Kuchar starts with par, then eagles the par-5 second hole to rise to T-18 at 3 under.
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Hole No. 7: Par 3, 219 yards
• Tee to green: This one misses left and a little long, in the bunker.
• Around the green: Tiger airmails this one off the front of the green. He's moving slowly and deliberately, but one can only wonder if it's physical or psychological. Tiger's third shot finds the green and he'll have an uphill putt for bogey. That roll grazes the right edge and Tiger taps in for double bogey. Tiger on the day: 3 over; T-47 at 4 over.
• Elsewhere on the course: Victor Dubuisson, who drew attention in the WGC-Match Play final with some fantastic recovery shots from the desert floor before losing to Jason Day, is 2 under through five holes today to rise to T-26 at 1 under.
Ernie Els gets under par for the week with a par-birdie start.
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Hole No. 6: Par 4, 469 yards
• Tee to green: Right away, Tiger knows he's missed this one way right; almost as quickly as he reacts, the gallery moves back to accommodate his second shot. From well right of the cart path, Woods has a decent lie in the rough but must deal with plenty of trees; his punch shot ends up near a concessions tent. This time he can go over the trees – and he wedges it to inside 10 feet, closer to 5.
• On the green: Just tapping this one down a slope, Tiger's putt is short and low. Bogey. Tiger on the day: 1 over; T-43 at 2 over.
• Elsewhere on the course: Another birdie for Phil Mickelson – his fifth of the day comes at No. 7 and gets his round to 4 under. He's T-26 at 1 under, having risen 18 spots today. Where has this been all year? Unfortunately for him, he gives that one back missing the eighth green short and left and failing to get up and down. Back to even par for the week.
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Hole No. 5: Par 3, 200 yards
• Tee to green: Another shot well short of the green, even moreso than his water ball at the third hole; the club comes out of Woods' hands as he follows through and he is slow in bending over to pick up his tee. Tiger's second-shot pitch is far enough out that he takes at least a half-swing – he's got the distance and inside 10 feet for his par try.
• On the green: Tiger's putt is dead-center, and he's converted an up and down from an unlikely spot. Tiger on the day: Even par; T-37 at 1 over.
• Elsewhere on the course: Bubba Watson birdies the fourth hole to get to even par for the week; he's 2 under today.
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Hole No. 4: Par 4, 471 yards
• Tee to green: Tiger finds the fairway for the first time since the first tee, but the soft conditions rob him of some distance as his ball checks up maybe a yard from where it landed. Another approach shot right on line with the pin, but it's in the front or middle of the green with the pin back; still a chance for birdie here.
• On the green: Hard to tell if he had the line, as Tiger's putt comes up well short. He makes the second putt.Tiger on the day: Even par; T-37 at 1 over.
• Elsewhere on the course: Phil Mickelson still hasn't made a par today. He birdies the fifth hole to get his round back to 3 under; he's T-32 at even par. Finally at the sixth, Mickelson two-putts for a par.
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Hole No. 3: Par 4, 442 yards
• Tee to green: Tiger's tee shot lands in the left-side first cut. His second shot ends with a right-hand finish and a splash – he's in the water guarding the front. After a drop at the end of the fairway, his fourth shot not only finds the green but spins to a stop within 2 feet of the pin.
• On the green: Tap-in for bogey. Tiger on the day: Even par; T-37 at 1 over.
• Elsewhere on the course: Playing as a single because Graham DeLaet had to withdraw with the flu, Russell Henley birdies the second hole to get back to even for the day; he's T-45 at 3 over.
Phil Mickelson's birdie streak comes to an end at the fourth hole, where he can't make his putt to convert a sand save. Bogey drops him to T-37 at 1 over.
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Hole No. 2: Par 5, 526 yards
• Tee to green: Tiger doesn't like his drive, which finds the rough and plugs in the face of the right-side bunker. He lays up from the extreme uphill stance and finds the first cut of rough on the right. With bunkers surrounding the green, Tiger gives it a good look with caddie Joe LaCava and knocks it on the green, a little left and short of the pin but within birdie range.
• On the green: From more than 15 feet, Tiger has the line and the pace down pretty good, but it lips out and he settles for a par. Tiger on the day: 1 under; T-32 at even par.
• Elsewhere on the course: The low number of the day belongs to Phil Mickelson, as he fires one close at No. 3 and taps in for his third birdie in as many holes today – rising to T-32 at even par.
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Hole No. 1: Par 4, 399 yards
• Tee to green: Fairway for Tiger Woods off the first tee, as the official horn restarts play while his ball settles in the middle. Preferred lies, don't forget. Tiger's aim is true on his second shot, and he flies it just past the pin to give himself a birdie look.
• On the green: The putter has plagued Tiger this week, but he's got a chance to forget all that. Call it 10 feet or so. And it's good. Tiger on the day: 1 under; T-32 at even par.
• Elsewhere on the course: Bubba Watson is Tiger's companion for the day, and he finds the fairway and green as well. He lags it close and taps in for a par to start his day and remain 2 over.
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With Firestone being soaked by rain early today, lift-clean-and-place rules are in effect to cut down on mud balls determining the outcome. Richard Sterne is doing fine, 3 under at the turn.
Phil Mickelson also is coping nicely, starting his round with back-to-back birdies. Luke Donald and Matt Every also are 2 under during the early going.
Play has been suspended, with players heading to the clubhouse (they had originally been held in position in hopes of restarting quickly). The restart is set for noon EDT.
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With Sergio Garcia playing his final three holes in level par and Rory McIlroy completing his round par-birdie-birdie, a repeat of sorts of the recent action at Royal Liverpool was put in motion for Sunday’s final round of the Bridgestone. With roles reversed, that is.
Welcome to the 2014 PGA Tour season, the first since 1995 to be played without its dynamic duo in place, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Of course, the yin and yang of the American golf scene have been present and accounted for this season – but only if you have arrived at the course early or looked well down the list of scores.
It's no secret that Tiger Woods has been struggling with his driver since returning from back surgery, but he revealed that he also has put a "new" driver in play this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. According to Nike, Woods is using a Nike VR_S Covert Tour 9.5-degree driver with a Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana White Board 73X shaft – the same one he used last year to win at Bridgestone. In recent tournaments, Woods had been using the Nike VRS Covert 2.0. "I went back to my old driver from last year. (It) has a lighter shaft," Woods said.
An early Saturday start at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational didn't hurt Sergio Garcia, who will head into Sunday's final round with a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy. Tiger Woods, paired with Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, struggled Saturday and made an unlikely bid for a FedEx Cup playoffs spoteven more improbable.
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To study Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott in 2014 is to come away impressed with their ability to continually give themselves a chance to score thanks to their ferocity off the tee.
Sergio Garcia (11 under; 9-under 61) and Rory McIlroy (7 under; 6-under 64) took advantage of benign afternoon conditions at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Sergio Garcia made Firestone his personal playground on Friday, running off seven consecutive birdies to finish his round – and eight over his final nine – to card a 9-under 61 that vaulted him to a three-shot lead at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
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With his best round since a 3-under 69 to begin the Open Championship, Tiger Woods carded a 2-under 68 Thursday in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as Marc Leishman took the lead. Ryan Moore, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel are second with a trio of 65s. Moore and Schwartzel had set the pace early, but find themselves trailing Leishman's 6-under 64 – with a certain 14-time major champion lurking.
Tiger Woods fired a 2-under 68 on Thursday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, sitting four shots back of 18-hole leader Marc Leishman. Woods, the defending champion, had six birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey in his best round since returning from back surgery. He is T-9 in the 72-player field. "I just need to get reps in. It just takes time," Woods told Golf Channel. "It's been building. Today was a lot better."
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Jim Furyk earns multiple mentions as a contender at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, although he's not a favorite as World No. 1 Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth are. Check out the rest of our experts' picks!
Tiger Woods not only has the challenge of excelling again after back surgery. He has the hurdle of doing so with a different swing. Different as in shorter. So-called swing experts have made much of the fact that the 14-time major winner’s motion has looked more compact in his six PGA Tour rounds since March 31 microdiscectomy.
Because only the top 125 will qualify for The Barclays, Tiger Woods almost assuredly has to have a combination of finishes worth about 400 points to make the top 125 – say, third in this week's WGC-Bridgestone and third again in next week's PGA Championship.
Though Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy would take what they’ve done in the major championships thus far in 2014 – after all, winning is the goal, isn’t it? – Rickie Fowler has played consistently best. At least according to his scores, because he’s 18 under for his 12 rounds in the 2014 majors. Of the 19 who have made the cut in all three majors, Fowler is the only one with three top 10s (T-5 in the Masters, T-2 in the U.S. Open and Open Championship).
Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby combined for 25 starts in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but they’re both teeing it up this week in something called the Barracuda Championship ( the former Reno-Tahoe Open) – Nick Watney is another who is making a rare opposite-field appearance while sitting 124th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Tiger Woods, appearing Tuesday on Fox Sports 1, detailed how he made "so many mistakes" during his recent British Open play. Speaking with Colleen Dominguez on Fox Sports Live, Woods said the troubles were a continuation of disappointing play in his own Quicken Loans National, where he missed the cut. “Well, I didn’t hit the ball very well; that’s just plain and simple – I made so many mistakes," Woods said. "When I first came back at Congressional I made a ton of mistakes there as well. My thought process was off.