New depths loom for Tiger after PGA exit

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New depths loom for Tiger after PGA exit


Tiger Woods reacts after hitting out of a bunker during the second round of the PGA Championship in Johns Creek, Georgia, on Friday. [AP/YONHAP]

JOHNS CREEK, Georgia - After plunging to new depths at the PGA Championship with his first missed cut at the major, Tiger Woods faces the once unthinkable prospect of being ranked outside the world’s top 50 when he next competes.

His next scheduled event is the Nov. 10 to 13 Australian Open and, should he not play a tournament before then, the former world No. 1 would slide down to the high fifties in the rankings.

This would be a remarkable scenario for Woods, the greatest golfer of his generation and arguably of all time, who has already won 14 major titles in a glittering career.

However, the last two years have been a veritable nightmare for the American, both on and off the course, and he was not expected to fare well at this week’s PGA Championship having only recently returned to the greens.

After making a red-hot start to the season’s final major with three birdies in his first five holes, world No. 30 Woods unravelled on the way to an opening seven-over-par 77.

That left him a staggering 14 strokes off the first-round lead and he followed up with a roller-coaster 73 on Friday to miss the cut after recording five double-bogeys in a tournament for the first time.

“I was in nearly 20 bunkers in two days and I had four or five water balls. So that’s not going to add up to a very good score,” a rueful Woods told reporters before heading home to Florida.

His early exit from Atlanta Athletic Club meant he failed to qualify for the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedExCup playoffs, and he clearly has plenty of work to do on his revamped swing before he returns to action, whether in Australia or before.

Woods does have plenty of options ranging from teeing it up at the PGA Tour’s Fall series, which generally only attracts journeymen on the U.S. circuit, to heading across to the late-season events on the European Tour.

He said he had not ruled out adding a tournament or two to his schedule before the Australian Open in Sydney, Woods replied.

If the PGA Championship does represent his final PGA Tour appearance of the season, Woods will end his 2011 campaign in the U.S. with just two top-10s in eight starts.

His biggest problems have been injury and lack of practice.

He was on the sidelines for three months while recovering from the left knee ligaments and Achilles tendon he hurt during the Masters in April, when he impressively tied for fourth.

He missed two majors, the U.S. Open and the British Open, and that unexpected hiatus was far from ideal as he continues working with coach Sean Foley through the fourth swing change of his career.

“This year has been frustrating because I was feeling somewhat healthy going into the Masters, put it together there and was leading the tournament with a few holes to go,” said Woods, who has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, nor any tournament worldwide since 2009.

“Then I got hurt, and I haven’t played since, really. So it’s been frustrating from that standpoint, that I have not been able to practice and work, and obviously compete.”

But he was encouraged by his improved health after recovering from a total of four knee surgeries.

“It’s a giant leap forward, in the fact that I played two straight weeks, healthy,” he said, referring also to last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 37th.

Though Woods has been a shadow of his former self while trying to rebuild his golf swing and private life following the breakup of his marriage, it is still far too early to write him off.

He has proved critics wrong in the past, but his acid test will be the West Coast swing on the 2012 PGA Tour next January and February, when he has traditionally made a fast start to the season.


한글 관련 기사 [연합뉴스]

[브리티시오픈] 우즈, 컷 탈락

개인 통산 15번째 메이저대회 우승을 노렸던 골프황제 타이거 우즈(미국)가 제138회 브리티시오픈 골프대회 컷 통과에 실패했다.

우즈는 18일(이하 한국시간) 스코틀랜드 에어셔의 턴베리 링크스 에일사 코스(파70.7천204야드)에서 열린 대회 2라운드에서 버디는 3개에 그치고 더블보기 2개, 보기 3개를 적어내 4오버파 74타를 쳤다.

중간합계 5오버파 145타의 스코어 카드를 제출한 우즈는 컷 기준 4오버파 144타에 1타가 모자란 공동 74위에 머물러 짐을 싸야 했다. 우즈가 프로로 전향하고 나서 메이저대회에서 컷을 통과하지 못한 것은 이번이 두번째다. 우즈는 아버지의 죽음으로 슬픔에 싸여있던 2006년 US오픈 때 컷오프된 적이 있다. 1라운드와 마찬가지로 티샷이 흔들렸고 후반에 나온 더블보기 2개가 결정타가 됐다. 우즈는 10번홀(파4)에서 티샷을 오른쪽 숲으로 날려 공을 잃어 버리면서 2타를 까먹었고 12번홀(파4) 보기에 이어 13번홀(파4)에서도 어프로치 샷 실수가 나오고 2m가 안되는 보기 퍼트마저 놓쳤다.

우즈는 16번홀(파4)과 17번홀(파5)에서 연속 버디를 잡았지만 잃었던 타수를 만회하기는 힘들었다. 우즈는 "실수 뒤에 또 실수가 나왔다. 몇 차례 좋지 않은 티샷과 아이언샷이 나왔다"며 "좋은 경기를 했는데 결과가 좋지 않아 실망스럽다"고 말했다. 우즈의 컷 탈락이 첫번째 충격이라면 이틀째 톰 왓슨(미국)의 선전은 또 다른 충격이었다.

60세의 노장 왓슨은 버디 5개를 보기 5개로 맞바꾸며 이븐파 70타를 쳐 중간합계 5언더파 135타로 공동 선두에 올랐다. 4번홀부터 연속 4개홀 보기를 적어내 무너지는 듯 했던 왓슨은 이후 버디 4개로만회하는 뒷심을 보여줬다. 대회 역사상 최고령 우승을 노리는 왓슨은 "우승할 생각이 없었다면 여기 오지 않았다"며 노익장을 과시했다. 왓슨과 함께 공동 선두에는 스티브 마리노(미국)가 자리했다.

대회 개막을 앞두고 가타야마 신고(일본)가 기권하는 바람에 처음 출전 기회를 잡은 마리노는 이글 1개와 버디, 보기를 4개씩 기록하며 2타를 줄여 중간합계 5언더파 135타를 쳤다.

전날 온화했던 날씨는 비가 내려 기온이 떨어지고 시속 30㎞의 바람이 부는 심술궂은 날씨로 바뀌면서 1라운드 단독 선두였던 미겔 앙헬 히메네스(스페인)는 버디3개와 보기 6개로 3타를 잃어 중간합계 3언더파 137타, 공동 4위로 밀려났다. 1라운드 때는 50명의 선수가 언더파 스코어를 기록했지만 2라운드에 파를 깬 선수는 7명에 불과했다. 최경주(39)와 앤서니 김(24.이상 나이키골프)은 나란히 6오버파 146타로 2라운드를 마쳐 컷을 통과하지 못했다.

관심을 끌었던 이시카와 료(일본)도 6오버파 146타에 그쳐 3라운드 진출에 실패했다.

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