Major No. 16 will have to wait for Tiger Woods.
The 15-time major champion hoped he could go low Saturday at the 2020 PGA Championship to jump into contention at TPC Harding Park. Instead, he stumbled around Lake Merced unable to find the spark he was looking for en route to posting a 2-over-72.
Now, 44, Woods does feel a sense of urgency to play well at the majors to maximize the opportunities he has left to catch Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors.
“There is,” Woods said after his round. “There’s not as many as when I first started playing. The reality is that the golf courses are getting bigger. They are getting longer. The margin between making the cut and the lead is a lot smaller than it used to be. Used to be sometimes 12 to 15 shots. Now, we had, what, nine shots? It’s just different. Its getting tighter and it’s getting harder to win events, but you look at the leaderboard of most major championships, you see the same guys. May not be always the same winners, but you see the same handful of guys are there. They understand how to win major championships, how to win the big events, how to plod their way along, how difficult it is to win these big events.”
Woods, who is now 2-over-par for the tournament and 10 shots back of leader Haotong Li, lamented missing a chance to vault into contention Saturday.
“You know, I didn’t make anything early. I had a couple opportunities to make a couple putts, and I didn’t. They were burning edges. I had a couple lipouts, and just nothing really got — got the round going. It’s just like yesterday. I just didn’t get anything going, and had to claw and fight to get my way back, and didn’t really get anything going until the last few holes.”
After making 114 feet of putts with a new Scotty Cameron putter to post a 2-under-par round Thursday, Woods has failed to get putts to drop over the last two rounds, falling out of contention at the year’s first major championship.
Woods spoke Friday about how tough it has been for him to read the greens at TPC Harding Park. While some might point to the new putter as something that needs to get thrown into Lake Merced, but Woods insists it’s not an issue with the equipment.
“I definitely didn’t hit them hard enough, that’s for sure,” Woods said of his putting Saturday. “Again, the putting green is a little bit faster than the golf course, and I made sure I hit a lot of uphill putts to make sure that I try to counter that going out there. I just didn’t trust it.I had a couple putts where I should have hit it a little bit harder, and I didn’t do it, and consequently, the ball died off at the end.
“I’m not,” Woods continued when asked if he was blaming the putter. “If I hit the putts hard enough, I’m making them. I’m just — it’s hard for me to hit the putts hard enough, and because of feel, and I putt so much by feel, and unfortunately it’s been a touch off.”
Woods will take one more lap around TPC Harding Park on Sunday, knowing he missed an opportunity to contend by the Bay. The opportunities were there for the greatest golfer in history to make the first major of the COVID-19 era a memorable one.
He let them wash away and now will turn his attention to the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and his next chance at No. 16.
Tiger Woods can’t find spark, path to contention at PGA Championship originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area