Tiger Woods missing spark as he turns attention to Masters title defence

Defending champion plans to play just one event before Augusta return

Tiger Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Tiger Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On the basis of what we’ve seen from the 15-time major winner since golf came out of lockdown in the summer, the answer probably has to be “no”.

An early exit from the US Open at Winged Foot – it was a case of déjà vu after suffering the same fate in 2006, though that first missed cut as a professional came when he was still grieving the death of his dad, Earl – was the latest in a string of lacklustre displays from Woods over the past few months.

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He is planning to play just once more – a title defence in the Zozo Championship, which has been moved from Japan to California – before heading back to Augusta National for the third and final major of a revamped 2020 schedule. If there’s anywhere he can still defy the odds, it’s the Georgia venue. We saw that when he ended an 11-year drought in majors last April by claiming a fifth Green Jacket. But the 44-year-old, inset, is lacking a spark again.

He finished on a high on Friday with two birdies in his last three holes. It was too little, too late, though. “It’s frustrating that I’m not going to be here for the weekend and be able to compete for this great championship,” he admitted after rounds of 73-77.

“It feels like the way the golf course is changing, is turning, that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship.

“I didn’t get myself that opportunity. Physically it was frustrating that I didn’t drive the ball as well as I needed to. Iron play was pretty much the way it has been. It’s been good and I finally putted well.

“But, on this golf course it’s imperative that you hit fairways, and I did not do that.

“Now that I have kids, missing cuts has a different perspective to it, but still, the whole goal of entering an event is to win, and when I don’t give myself that opportunity over the weekend, it doesn’t feel good.”

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