The tense moments after Tiger Woods’ internet-shattering shank

tiger woods drops club after hitting shank at genesis invitational

Tiger Woods' round ended with a shank on Thursday at the Genesis Invitational.

Getty Images/Michael Owens

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — If you’ve followed Tiger Woods for 18 holes of golf, it’s hard not to notice the noise. Next to nearly all of his competitors, the sounds that follow Woods during a tournament round are deafening. More importantly, though, they are predictable.

The Tiger Noise is as surefire as anything in pro golf, a symphony of swells and silence so formulaic that it has become a kind of Atomic Clock for hardened golf journalists — a sign things are progressing as they should in Tigerland, even if the observer is blocked off by a tree or the wickets of an overeager TV spotter (as often happens in the nervous anticipation of the Tiger Crowds.)

On Thursday afternoon at the Genesis Invitational, it did not take a hardened ear to know the noise that joined Woods’ second shot on the 18th was unusual. With a crowd of thousands packed into the amphitheater 18th and ready to explode into raucous applause for even a below-average approach, the uncurious silence that followed the dull thwack of contact was revealing.

More revealing was the image that joined the silence. By the time Woods reached the follow-through of his swing, he had already deposited his club to the turf in disgust, his eyes searching an area perpendicular to his target line for the location of the ball.

The reason for the disruption, as you may already know, was the shank of Woods’ recent life — an utter hosel-rocket that exploded off the head of his club on a near 90-degree angle and soared into the trees. Officially, according to ShotLink, Woods’ second shot traveled 71 yards, though it should be noted that number was aided when his ball tumbled down a sidehill lie before reaching its final resting place.

The seconds that followed the shank were awkward, to put it generously. The crowd of at least a few thousand said almost nothing at all, staring holes into the soles of their shoes while the greatest golfer of a generation wore the pained disposition of a hemophobe at a blood drive. As Woods took a moment to regroup, the hordes shuffled noiselessly into position behind his third shot, an untouched slab of native area off to the side of the hole.

Finally, after what felt like a while, Justin Thomas stuck his approach onto the putting surface, mercifully granting the crowd an excuse to return to polite applause. Gary Woodland, the group’s third member, followed suit, and now the gallery had gotten back some of its mojo.

Eventually, Woods and new caddie Lance Bennett made it to the site of their ball. A short conversation followed, and after a few practice swings, Woods hit a marvelous recovery — a “punch-hook 8-iron” through a web of trees that scorched down the fairway and settled on the putting surface with an impossibly gentle touch. Two putts and handshake later, he had emerged with a mortifying if mostly harmless bogey, and the crowd had returned to its typical attunement.

The shank would be the story of Tiger’s day on Thursday at the Genesis, his first round back on the PGA Tour in the 2024 season. Most of what came before it was garden-variety 48-year-old-playing-in-his-first-tournament-in-months behavior: a few impressive birdies, a few ugly bogeys, and more than enough good to offset the bad. He finished with a score of one over and in a tie for 49th in this 70-player field, eight shots off the mark set by Patrick Cantlay.

If you arrived at the Genesis on Thursday hoping to see signs of life from Woods’ first round of the year, you left encouraged. His swing had noticeably more juice than in any of the week’s practice rounds, and his putter had a few sharp moments. Most importantly, he navigated 18 holes on his feet without any obvious sign of pain. The Tiger Noise that followed most of his round was near its usual frequency of ecstasy and agony, and considering it’s been the better part of a year since a serious tournament round, that felt like good news.

And, for what it’s worth, GOLF will not be criticizing those unfortunate developments in the 18th fairway. The shank was human, uniquely so for a player of Woods’ stature, the kind of mishit that reminds us some experiences in golf are universal. Through a sheepish grin at his post-round press conference, he seemed to realize that too.

“Oh, definitely,” he said. “I shanked it.”

But it was not without worry. The concerning piece of the shank, he admitted later, was the balky back that caused it.

“My back was spasming the last couple holes and it was locking up,” he said, mirroring the same injury concerns that have plagued his career at least a dozen times over the last decade. “I came down and it didn’t move and I presented hosel first and shanked it.”

There was another disturbance in the force after that last admission — another too-long silence that carried over the viewing audience. This time, the golf journalists in attendance didn’t know what to do.

But then came a question, and then another, and the Tiger Noise returned to its typical rattle and hum.

It always does on weeks like this, and that’s oddly comforting.

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at

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