The Open: Tiger Woods unable to make the cut at Portrush
By Keith Jackson at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 19/07/19 6:55pm
Tiger Woods made a frustrating early exit from The 148th Open after being unable to repair the damage of his first-round 78 at Royal Portrush.
Woods was swinging more freely after having treatment on his sore back on Thursday evening and restored some pride with a battling one-under 70, but six over par was too many to play the weekend and left him heading straight to the airport.
The 43-year-old flirted with the out-of-bounds markers on the left with his opening tee shot, but he produced a recovery of old as he gouged his second onto the green and drained a 25-foot putt for a morale-boosting birdie.
Woods further enhanced his hopes of extending his tournament with a nice two at the short sixth, but his radar was off at the next and he took a step back with a bogey-six only to raises expectations among the vast galleries again with back-to-back birdies to begin the inward nine.
But he had to settle for a run of five pars before looking fatigued over the final two holes, dropping shots at both to slip back to six over and comfortably outside the projected cut mark.
"It's more frustrating than anything else because this is a major championship and I love playing in these events," said Woods, who has now played only 12 competitive rounds of golf since winning the Masters in April.
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"I love the atmosphere, and I love just the stress of playing in a major. Unfortunately, I've only had a chance to win one of them and was able to do it, but the other three I didn't do very well.
"I kind of grinded my way around the golf course today. I had a chance to get it back to even par for the tournament but I did not handle the par-fives well. I was in perfect condition all three of them, if I handled those par-fives well, I would be right there."
Woods will now take another break to prepare for the FedExCup Play-Offs, which begin in early August at The Northern Trust in New Jersey, and he will need a strong performance or two to ensure being ranked in the top-30 in time to defend his Tour Championship title in Atlanta.
But he also insisted he would continue his ploy of playing only sparingly for the remainder of the year in a bid to prolong his career, adding: "I just have to continue doing what I'm doing.
"I've got so much stronger over the past year working with my physios and trying to get my body organised so that I can play at a high level. It panned out; I won a major chip this year.
"It's just a matter of being consistent. That's one of the hardest things to accept as an older athlete is that you're not going to be as consistent as you were at 23. Things are different now, and I'm going to have my hot weeks when I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments.
"But there are times when I'm just not going to be there, and that wasn't the case 20-some-odd years ago. I had a different body and I was able to be a little bit more consistent."
Woods also showered praise on the fans who have flocked through the gates at Portrush this week to witness the first Open to be played over the historic Dunluce Links for the first time since 1951.
"They were incredible, they were so nice and so respectful and the kids were respectful," he said. "That's not always the case when we travel around the world. We hear some rude comments from the kids, and I think the adults kind of teach them that.
"But here they were so respectful. We couldn't have played in front of a better fan base than here at Portrush."