SAN FRANCISCO – Since favorites never win at The Olympic Club, perhaps Tiger Woods never really had a chance.
He certainly never gave himself one on Sunday.
Extending his weekend retreat from the top of the leaderboard, Woods withdrew himself from consideration with a horrid 6-over start on the wicked opening six holes at Olympic to fall as far as 11 shots out of the U.S. Open lead he shared after 36 holes.
Three birdies the rest of the way for a 75-73 weekend left him tied for 21st and still searching for an end to his four-year major drought.
“Unfortunately just got off to such an awful start,” said Woods, who went bogey-bogey-double bogey right out of the box to kill his hopes for a Sunday rally. “I tried coming in, but I was too far out. The first six, I just didn’t play well at all. I just could never get anything going positively and I missed the ball in the wrong side a couple times and that’s all it takes.”
Woods seemed primed to silence all the naysayers and reboot his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus’ major championship carrot with a 1-under 69-70 start that had him sharing the 36-hole lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms. But as he did on Sunday, a brutal start took the steam out of his game plan and the energy out of the galleries and primetime television audience that was ready to witness the culmination of his comeback to the top of the golf world.
Woods was not willing to declare his flirtation with a 15th major win and fourth U.S. Open triumph a “tease.”
“I wouldn’t look at it like that at all,” he said. “I hit the ball very well the first two days, and as I said (Saturday) I was just a fraction off just a couple yards here and there and that’s all it takes. I had so many balls that landed in the fairway that went into the rough.”
For the second consecutive day, Woods missed the fairway off the opening tee and was forced to lay up on the long par 4 and settle for bogey. He bounced into a back bunker on No. 2 and failed to get up and down. Then he left himself short-sided in the rough on the par-3 3rd and made two bad chips en route to a double bogey that even prompted the television producers to stop showing his every shot.
Woods made 10 bogeys, one double and only three birdies on the first six holes all week accounting for eight of his cumulative seven shots over par.
“It’s tough starting out, you know that if you can play them even par for the week you’re going to pick up a bunch of shots,” he said.
Despite his weekend flameout, Woods feels ready to resume his major quest in July at the British Open at Royal Lytham.
“There’s a lot of positives this week,” he said. “Hit the ball really well. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the speed of the greens until today. But overall, the way I struck the golf ball, the way I controlled it all week is something that’s very positive going forward and if I just would have hung in there little bit better (Saturday) and missed it on the correct side a couple times then I would have been in a better position going into today.”
Woods didn’t bother taking his golf shoes off as he walked directly to the parking lot and headed to the airport. His disappointment showed more in his face than in his words as he left San Francisco with his next stop Congressional Country Club for the AT&T National.
Woods can only chalk this week up as another one that got away.
“Boy, you could say that of a lot of tournaments, can’t you?” he said. “I’ve finished close in major championships before. So I had a chance this week and I’ll get after it in another week at in DC.”