Tiger Woods produced a couple of firsts on Saturday, none of which were cause for a stir. He got the highest score from him at the PGA Championship and then retired from a Slam for the first time in his professional career.
Hours after Woods limped to 9 over 79 in the third round at Southern Hills, he informed the PGA of America of his retirement.
Anyone who has seen the wobbly steps of a right leg that was knocked out 15 months ago in a car accident should not have been surprised. Woods declined media interviews after his round, speaking only to a reporter from the group.
He was asked if days like this (lots of pain, high score) made him question the process it takes to play and if he would play on Sunday.
“Well, I’m sore. I know for a fact,” she said. “We’ll do some work and see how it goes.”
The PGA of America announced his retirement after the third round ended. Woods was 21 shots behind Chile’s Mito Pereira, who takes a three-shot lead into the final round.
For Woods, the focus now turns to next month at the US Open. When he made the cut at the Masters in his first time walking and competing against the best since the February 2021 car accident in Los Angeles, he said he would be at the British Open in St. Andrews in July.
He did not mention the PGA Championship or the US Open, wanting to assess his recovery. But he took a trip to Southern Hills in the weeks before the PGA and said he felt better than he did at the Masters.
That lasted only so long.
Even while wincing at times, Woods produced his most convincing golf on Friday afternoon when he rallied to make the cut with a series of decisive putts and short-game magic.
Woods has played through pain during his career, most memorably the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines which he won with a double stress fracture in his left leg and shattered ligaments in his left knee that required surgery that ended the injury. season when it ended.
But on Saturday, walking gingerly through a field soaked by a half-inch of rain early in the morning, he had reason to wonder if it was worth making the cut.
“I didn’t do anything right,” Woods said after putting for 5-foot par on the 18th to break 80. “I didn’t make a lot of good shots. Consequently, I ended up with a pretty high score.”
It wasn’t his worst moment in a major. There was that 81 at the 2002 British Open in the raging wind and bitter cold of Muirfield that ended his hopes of a Grand Slam. He had an 80 in Chambers Bay at the 2015 US Open while recovering from the first of what would be five back surgeries.
This was painful to watch, and not just the sloppy game with wedges and two water balls.
Like the weekend at the Masters, his first competition since the February 2021 car accident that shattered his right leg, the limp became more pronounced as the day wore on.
And the weather, the high 50s, compared to a heat index that approached triple digits earlier in the week, didn’t help.
“You’re very sorry that he has to go through this,” said Shaun Norris, the South African who played Woods to a huge gallery, but certainly not the size of the previous two days.
“But then again, you also see the kind of person that she is, that she pushes through everything and pushes herself, even all the pain and stuff,” Norris said. “It’s not easy to see a guy like him having to go through that and fight like that. He is doing very well, and I think he will come back once he gets his health back and solves all the problems ».
Woods opted not to speak to the media, instead offering some thoughts to a reporter from the group. He didn’t get into one of the clear problems, which was distance control. Whether the ball didn’t fly as far because of the cold or his speed was slower than he thought, there were two times Woods was stunned to see where his ball landed.
One was on the par-3 sixth hole, when Woods’ shot not only fell short, but hit the water. He put his next short shot into the furry neck, missed a chip and walked away with a triple bogey.
And that was just the beginning.
Woods made five straight bogeys from the ninth hole. One of them was on the par 3 11, when he landed on an 8-iron only to see it land short, short. He looked back at his caddy and said, “That’s less than the bunker!”
His uphill shot had so much pace that it went over the green and down the slope, and he had to hit a 4-foot shot to bogey away. This was a hole after a similar shot up the hill from a bit further out that settled on the top shelf of a green. The pin was in the front.
And then, on the par 5 13, when a bold play to go over the green from the first rough cut and in a strong wind seemed to pay off, his 100-foot shot went 35 feet past the pin and off the green. . A likely birdie turned into a bogey.
“I couldn’t get off the ghost train,” he said.
Even when it seemed like a lost cause, and there were times when it looked like his right knee was starting to buckle, Woods rarely made a shot or putt.
The only bright spot was a 35-foot birdie putt on the 15th, and Woods forced a smile as he swiped his right index finger in the air to mark his first birdie of the day.
It was also his only.
He talked Friday about needing a hot round, and that wasn’t available to him on a cold day. He finally decided that it wasn’t worth doing it again.