Bridgestone Invitational: Tiger Woods slumps to an all-time low
While Lee Westwood was landing in Britain yesterday nursing the calf injury which forced him to pull out of this week's USPGA Championship, Tiger Woods was still suffering his own agonies in Akron at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The world No 1 posted a 75 to fall to 11-over and stand 78th in the 80-man field as fellow American Hunter Mahan collected his first world golf championship title.
For Woods, it was yet another humiliating experience on the course that Woods once bestrode like no other. Everybody thought Thursday's 74 was bad; yesterday's embarrassment was the highest score in 43 rounds and 11 years of playing at Firestone.
A fine gauge of his wretched form was provided by his early-morning starting time. After going out at 7.55am, he tapped in for a bogey on the 18th more than two and a half hours before the leaders teed off. For a seven-time champion of this event that was a belittling scenario indeed.
At least he did not have to suffer the ignominy of then having to watch Phil Mickelson make his downfall to No 2 a formality.
But the Californian chose a most unfortunate time to have another poor day, the wayward driving which had been dogging him all week, finally catching up
with him as he closed with an eight over 78 to finish tied for 46th to leave Woods still ahead of him in the world rankings.
If only Westwood had not suffered that calf problem five weeks ago. The Englishman had his own chance to usurp Woods but saw his attempt foiled by his ruptured plantaris muscle. After a 76 on Friday, Westwood was persuaded to withdraw from both Akron and the USPGA.
It was a bitter blow for the 37-year-old, who has four top threes to his name from the previous five majors and two runner-up placings from the last three.
Westwood, however, was finally obliged to listen to reason. “I need to sit on my backside for six weeks, like they keep telling me,” he said. “It's the only way to improve it, but I will be out for as long as it takes to get better. I am just hoping it will be in time for me to play in the Ryder Cup.”
The Celtic Manor dust-up takes place in eight weeks' time, so Westwood is plainly not a definite. With four rookies currently in the nine automatic positions, his experience would obviously be a huge loss. The question marks surrounding his lead player mean Colin Montgomerie will give the merits of Bernhard Langer serious consideration when he comes to selecting his dozen at the end of the month. Not that the 52-year-old hadn't already entered his considerations.
“It wouldn't be so much of a shock, to be honest,” said Montgomerie when asked about the chances of a captain's pick for the German.
“To win the British Seniors Open at Carnoustie the other week was no mean feat, but then to travel eight time zones the next week and beat the local favourite Freddie Couples in that last round in Sahalee was remarkable.”
Langer was the winning captain in 2004, but the last time he played was eight years ago.