The Tiger Woods meltdown? Analyst says it was due to an ‘unusual’ sin
Tiger Woods was magical to a younger Jordan Spieth. The good shots were good and all. But it was what he did after the not-so-good ones that was truly memorable.
Woods, Spieth said, forgot about them.
“The number one thing that struck me every round that we’ve played together is that he’ll get mad, but he won’t get negative,” Spieth said a few years back on a podcast. “I’ve never heard him get negative. And I’m trying to take that into my game, where I’ve been less mad and more negative. He’ll hit a shot, and he’ll let himself know about it. But it’s mad. It’s not, ‘I can’t figure this out.’ There’s no can’t. Or ‘I’m struggling with this.’
“It’s literally just him to himself, gets the anger out and then moves on.”
All of this brings us to Friday.
When, during the Hero World Challenge second round, he’d been playing well in his first event since April, when he had undergone an ankle procedure. Four birdies through seven holes at the Albany Golf Course in the picturesque Bahamas. On the 13th, he was still at that number. Then Woods missed a putt from just under a yard away and bogeyed. Then he missed a 2-footer for birdie on 14.
Then, on 15, he dumped his second shot, from the middle of the fairway, into the right greenside bunker. And from there, Woods started to melt down. With little green to work with, he raced his sand shot 33 feet past the hole.
Then he putted his ball about 30 feet past. It ran by the left side of the hole. It finished back in the bunker. He had putted off the green.
“I mean, it’s shake-your-head kind of stuff,” announcer Dan Hicks said on the Golf Channel broadcast.
Notably, on the broadcast, Hicks was talking with Dr. Pawan Munjal, the CEO of the tournament’s sponsors, Hero MotoCorp. After Woods’ putt, Woods underhand threw his putter toward his bag, started to put his glove back on, grabbed his wedge from fill-in caddie and confidante Rob McNamama and worked his way back into the bunker. He took two practice swings, hit out to 14 feet, walked out and grabbed his putter back from McNamara.
From there, he made his bogey six. But what might have happened on shot four? The first putt, back into the bunker?
On the broadcast, analyst Curt Byrum, also a former pro, had a thought.
After reading the introduction to the story, you probably know where this is going.
“I think he was so disappointed in the tactical error of missing left in the bunker on his second shot, it carried over, which is unusual,” Byrum said. “But it carried over to the bunker shot and the putt.”
Said Kaufman on the broadcast: “Kinda just watched all that unfold over the last 30, 45 minutes with Tiger and really it was just that one shot he hit in the bunker that he just did not take that extra breath on that putt, give it the proper amount of time, the putt he hit in the bunker. Got to stay in grind mode here to the finish.”
Said McGinley on the broadcast: “Not like him to lose his poise like he did there on the par-5.”
Of course, these things happen. But from Woods? A day earlier, he admitted he made mental errors during his first round and blamed those on rust, so this could also be that.
At two points in his post-round press conference, he was asked about his putt on 15. No, he said, there was not a lack of concentration. No, he also said, he couldn’t recall putting into a bunker before.
“Not that I can — not that I can remember,” Woods said. “That was not a good putt. It was downwind and I hit it way too hard. It got going on the wind and got going on the grain and was gone.
“The mindset, I was obviously ticked. At the end of the day, it was better than yesterday.”
As for tomorrow? He starts his third round at 11:43 a.m. on Saturday.