The 2018 U.S. Open was an unqualified disaster for Tiger Woods and his week is over despite a valiant finish.
Woods opened with birdie Friday and closed birdie-birdie but fired a 2-over 72 in the second round of the U.S. Open to finish at 10-over 150. It all added up to a missed cut, with 8 over coming in as the cutline.
There was little in this performance he was looking for.
It was a struggle from the start of the week at Shinnecock Hills, as Woods made triple bogey on his opening hole of the tournament. A bogey thereafter put him 4 over through two.
He battled back over the next several holes to go out in 3-over 38, but back-to-back sloppy double bogeys on the back nine relegated him to an 8-over 78.
Woods began Friday knowing he needed a good round just to make the cut, and it looked like it could be coming when he spun a wedge to 2 feet at his opening hole (the par-4 10th) for a kick-in birdie. His driving let him down thereafter, but he fought off a bogey at the par-4 14th with a birdie at the par-5 16th.
Even after a bogey at the par-4 18th to go out in Even par-35, everything seemed in good order. But the par-4 first got him again. A misplayed approach led to a double bogey, and Woods would bogey the par-3 second as well. (He played Nos. 1 and 2 in 7 over in these two rounds.)
He was now 11 over and needing to make up ground on a difficult course coming in to have a chance at the weekend.
All appeared lost after he failed to birdie the par-5 fifth and then bogeyed the par-4 sixth to fall to 12 over. A textbook birdie (great drive, well-executed approach to 10 feet, buried putt) at the par-4 eighth gave him a glimmer of hope as a birdie-birdie finish could get him to 10 over – a number that appeared very unlikely to be the eventual cutline, but was possible.
A beautiful drive followed by a second shot to 20 feet gave him the birdie putt to do it at the par-4 ninth, and he drained it!
That birdie-birdie finish was a hint of clutch play in an otherwise dreary 36 holes for Woods. It gave him a faint of hope, but it turned out later that 10 over was not enough.
His superior ball-striking from Memorial seemed to carry over somewhat to Shinnecock, as his driver was pristine for much of the opening round. But he made some sloppy mistakes on approaches and around the green.
Combine that with the cold putter that, unfortunately for him, also carried over from Memorial, and it led to a triple bogey and two double bogeys that killed his opening round.
His driving was more shaky in Round 2 and his putter gave him more troubles early, but Woods did seem to have the flatstick working well in the latter half of the round. And he drained a pair of mid-range putts in that birdie-birdie finish.
After these two days, there’s plenty of work to do in future events.