Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Tiger Woods offers the same old excuses after falling short

Tiger Woods
Jack Nicklaus

Tiger Woods is beginning to sound like a cracked record.

For the fifth straight time, Tiger explained his failure to perform over the weekend at one of golf's four Majors by saying he couldn't get to grips with the slow pace of the greens.

Widely expected to end his five year drought at golf's grand slams championships on Sunday, Woods instead slumped to a three-over par 74 ... so his wait for that elusive 15th Major title continues.

"I had a hard time adjusting to the speeds," he said of his final round at Muirfield.

"They (the greens) were much slower, much softer. I don't think I got too many putts to the hole today."

Remarkably, Tiger offered the same excuse after his previous four Majors:

SUNDAY, LYTHAM 2012 OPEN: "Again, I left a lot of putts short out there. The greens were a little bit slow and I tried to put some more hit in my stroke, but putts were dying off the front of the lip.

SUNDAY, KIAWAH, 2012 US PGA: "I just couldn't believe how slow these greens were ... They're slower than the (practice) putting green ... struggled getting the balls to the hole."

SUNDAY, AUGUSTA NATIONAL, 2013 US MASTERS: "I just thought the greens were so slow. Yesterday they were so quick and dried out and today they were so much slower. From the first eight holes I think I left every putt short. I had a hard time getting the speed and being committed to hitting the putts that hard."

SUNDAY, MERION, 2013 US OPEN: "Istruggled with the speed all week. These greens are grainy. It's one of the older bent grasses, creeping bent. So it's a little bit grainy. I struggled with the speed, especially right around the hole."

The common denominator here is Tiger, not the wide variety of greens upon which the last five Majors have been played.

No doubt, the pace of Muirfield's putting surfaces slowed at the weekend but many others, including winner Phil Mickelson, adjusted.

Woods was at his best when they were hard and fiery in the first round, needing just 27 putts, while he took 33 on Saturday and Sunday.

In the final round, he'd a pair of ugly three-footers, including a miss from inside for four feet for his par at the first, which must have badly dented his morale.

Reviewing his strained performance over the weekend at the Majors as his drought stretches beyond five years, one can't help feeling that Tiger's inability to get the ball to the hole, especially on Sunday, has more to do with pressure than the pace of the putting surfaces.

Tiger's won four times on the PGA Tour this year and should have found the hard and fast set-up at Murfield right up his street ... as he did at the last 'dry' Open at Hoylake in 2006.

Everything seemed to be falling into place as he went into the weekend tracking Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Yet as the window narrows on his lifelong mission to beat the record 18 Majors won by Jack Nicklaus, Woods, now 37, inevitably is feeling the heat.

No longer does Tiger exude that aura of entitlement he used have standing over his ball on any putting green ... and with every passing Major, inevitably the strain on him increases. That magic figure of 19 has never looked further away.

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