Tiger Woods in Contention for Worst American at WGC-Bridgestone
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Lucky for Tiger there’s no cut at WGC events because if there were, after posting an atrocious opening round four-over 74 — his worst ever at Firestone — he’d be set to miss weekend play. For a guy who has won this event seven out of ten times, he sure hacked his way around the course. It was pretty painful, not to mention probably humiliating for Tiger. With every poor shot, it felt like another hit to his ego.

After making a 10-footer for birdie on 17, he turned to the crowd and bowed sarcastically. At least he tried to have a sense of humor, but he looked like a defeated man. The mystique is gone!

Hitting it everywhere but the correct fairway, Woods actually bombed a drive down the middle on 18, but his 20-footer for birdie missed. He tapped in for 74, which is also his worst opening round at a WGC event. In an 81-player field, Tiger is T70.

On the 10th hole, he hit it so far right, it bounced off the cart path and into the 18th fairway. He actually had a clear shot to the green, but his approach went long and bounced off the TV tower to a good lie in decent chipping position. Tiger managed to get up-and-down. Uhh, great par?

After his round, he declined an interview with the Golf Channel.*

Let’s take a look at his stats — 5 fairways (T74), 11 greens (T43) and 32 putts (T66). Good news is he’s T3 in bogeys with six. Plus, it can’t get much worse, can it? He’s 9th in the Ryder Cup standings, which means he’d need one of Pavin’s four captain’s picks to make the team. Question is, would he accept the invitation if he doesn’t qualify on merit?

Besides his pride, Tiger has something else to lose. His 270-week reign as the world’s number-one player is in danger. Again.

Phil Mickelson recovered from two early bogeys to fire a four-under 66 and T2 after one round. If Mickelson finishes fourth or better and Tiger places outside of the top-37, then Mickelson will dethrone Tiger. What’s the over/under Lefty chops it around the course either Friday or Saturday?

Meanwhile, first-round leader Bubba Watson is also relieved to hear there’s no cut. After firing a great opening six-under 64, Watson told the Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, “I’m just trying to make the cut.” Informed there is no cut at WGC events, he replied, “Well, perfect then. I made it.”

So, Tiger has lots of shots to make up. Word is, he’s not putting in any practice time and already vacated the premises.

*Update: Woods did speak with the media after the round. He just denied a Golf Channel exclusive interview. “Well, I didn’t play well. Only thing I did good today is I kept my patience out there, grinded all day, and that was the best I could have done today.

“Just because I like the golf course doesn’t mean I’m going to play well on it. You know, unfortunately that’s not the case. You still have to execute, and I didn’t do that today. I did not execute the shots that I wanted to execute today, didn’t shape the ball the way I wanted to shape it, and certainly did not putt well.”

[AP Photo/Amy Sancetta]