Finishing Flourish Little Consolation for Woods
June 15, 2018 Southampton, N.Y. By Dave Shedloski
Two late birdies likely won't be enough to keep three-time champion Tiger Woods around for the weekend at Shinnecock Hills. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Tiger Woods’ return to the U.S. Open wasn’t what he hoped for. When he walked off the ninth green Friday afternoon after closing with consecutive birdies, the best he could hope for was a weekend tee time.

The three-time U.S. Open champion improved on his first-round effort, but it remained to be seen if it was going to be enough to make the cut to low 60 and ties. A 2-over 72 left Woods with an aggregate score of 150, 10 over par. He sat in a tie for 101st place when he holed a 17-foot birdie putt, just his fifth of the championship, so he was going to need help for the cutline to move all the way to plus-10.

“I wanted to shoot something around 68, 67. I thought that would have been a great score,” Woods said after a chilly morning round that included a patch of steady drizzle. “I looked at it as kind of progressively putting myself back into position. I couldn't chase down the leaders right away. It's going to take me probably 2½ to 3 rounds to do it. Unfortunately, I went the other way.”

Should Woods, 42, miss the cut, it would mark just the third time he has failed to advance to the final two rounds in 20 U.S. Open starts and his second missed cut in a row after his struggles in 2015 at Chambers Bay, the last time he was healthy enough to compete. He has not finished in the top 10 since 2010 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, where he tied for fourth place.

The hole most responsible for damaging his scorecard was the par-4 first, the same hole that inflicted pain right out of the gate in Round 1.

On Thursday, Woods suffered a triple bogey from the middle of the fairway after he airmailed the green with a 6-iron and couldn’t recover. This time, again from the fairway, he took a double bogey after turning in a hopeful even-par 35 on the inward nine, his first nine holes. Woods flared his approach right of the right greenside bunker and watched his ball dive into the high fescue. From there he hacked out across the green, pitched to 14 feet and then missed the bogey try.

When he bogeyed the next hole, too, his bid for making the cut took a serious hit. He has played those first two holes in 7 over par combined.

“I didn’t play the first or second hole very well. How about that?” he said with a tired smile. “It was tough out there early. Wind was blowing. It was raining a little bit, and I was kind of hanging in there until, unfortunately, first and second hole kind of derailed it.”

He took no consolation from his finish, even if it turns out to be enough to make the cut.

“I'm not very happy the way I played and the way I putted,” Woods said. “I'm 10 over par. So I don't know that you can be too happy and too excited about 10 over par.”

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.