As if one terrible drive wasn’t enough. First, Tiger hit a 122-yard duck hook on the second hole at the TPC Blue Monster during the second round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. On the 14th, he popped up a 3-wood to 188 yards, according to ShotLink — good news is that it ended up in the fairway and Tiger managed to get up-and-down for par. Surprisingly, his ballstriking wasn’t the primary culprit for the lackluster round.
Tiger putted terribly, needing 32 putts on the way to posting two-over 74. This week he averages 31.5 putts, ranking him T64 in putts per round in a 66-man field. Had he putted “normal,” Tiger says he would’ve shot three-under or four-under on Friday.
“Well, it certainly wasn’t one of my better putting rounds today,” said Tiger after his round. “I had a hard time with the grain. I missed basically only two putts on the high side today and everything on the low side — I just couldn’t play enough break.
“I just can’t hit the putts hard enough. My feel on the pace was for the practice rounds. When the rain came in, it totally changed what I saw and felt. I’ve had a hard time making the adjustment…It’s hard for me to commit to hitting putts that hard when in the back of my mind, I know they are rolling pretty good early in the week.”
Excuses, excuses. Apparently Hunter Mahan, nine-under for the tournament and the 36-hole leader, has adjusted just fine. So has world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, who trails by just one. Meanwhile, Tiger is even-par and nine shots off the pace.
Asked about the interesting shots he hit, Tiger replied, “I’ve done it before. I mean, it’s not the first time I hit a snipe. Did it at The Masters. It is what it is. I hit a bad shot, no big deal.”
Graeme McDowell, who gave quite a delightful presser, had a more candid response. Well, after he explained that he called a penalty on himself. In fact, G-Mac was quite well-versed with the rules. On No. 9 McDowell was putting on the side slope and the wind caused the ball to move. He was aware the ball was moving, but it was too late for him to stop.
After he hit the putt, McDowell immediately told Phil Mickelson, who thought that if you continued your stroke, it wasn’t a penalty. But G-Mac wanted to be sure and asked a rules official before he signed his scorecard.
“I was surprised to see it was a one-shot penalty, but it’s just kind of one of those horrible Rules of Golf that catches us all out from time to time,” said McDowell.
He was still in good humor despite the penalty.
“It was fun (playing with Tiger and Phil),” said McDowell, laughing. “We dragged each other down a little bit today. I didn’t hit very many fairways. Tiger didn’t hit very many fairways. Phil missed a few.
“We started off with a beautiful crowd the front nine holes and wasn’t surprised to see it dwindle in the back nine. I think they got it a little bored with us perhaps.”
Asked about Tiger’s drive on No. 2, G-Mac, smiling, said, “It’s pretty tough not to have a giggle. We all hit bad shots. You know Tiger actually hit two tee shots today, I would say, combined didn’t go further than 200 yards. He hit that snap hook off No. 2, which didn’t go further than 85 yards. And he hit a pop-up fly to midfield on No. 14, which probably went about 120 yards, max.”
McDowell kept the laughs for after the round.
“You know if he would have made 4 on 2, we would probably have given him a bit of crap for it,” said G-Mac. But since he made bogey, we didn’t really cross the line.”
However, McDowell hit a similar shot when he played with him in Shanghai at the HSBC Champions last November and Tiger gave G-Mac a “bit of schtick.” Difference was that McDowell grinded for a par and Tiger didn’t.
Tiger’s 122-yard drive was the talk among other players, too. Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey played in the group behind Tiger.
“It was funny because Paul came up and said, ‘Tiger’s already hit his second shot,'” said Rory while signing autographs after shooting three-under 69, seven-under total. “I said, What? Did he hit a tree off the tee?”
Added Rory, “It can happen to anyone.” I gave him an “uh-huh” look.
He said, “It can! Especially if you’re working on a few swing things, you get stuck in between swings and you don’t do either, I’ve popped up a few 3-woods this year. I’ve been close to (not making it past the ladies’ tees)…I’m not sure if I’ve done that.
“You can’t laugh at other people’s misses. If the other guy is laughing, as well, then you can.”
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)