Tiger Woods slumps to worst ever PGA Championship round
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Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet
TULSA, Okla. – Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the PGA Championship after shooting a 79 on Saturday that was his highest-ever score in this championship.
Woods was visibly in pain during Saturday’s cold conditions and hinted after his round that he may need to WD. His withdrawal was announced shortly after the final group completed play at Southern Hills.
“Well, I'm sore. I know that for a fact. We'll do some work and see how it goes,” Woods said after his round. After shooting a second-round 69 to make the cut, Woods struggled from the start Saturday. He was 10 over through 13 holes before playing the final five holes in 1 under.
This is just his second WD from a major championship and first as a professional. He also withdrew from the 1995 U.S. Open after injuring his wrist in the second round while hitting his ball out of the rough. This was Woods' first withdrawal from any event since Dubai in 2017 and first in a PGA TOUR event since the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told Sports Illustrated that Woods was suffering from pain in his foot Saturday.
“He’s got pain and discomfort in the foot," Steinberg told Sports Illustrated. "He just thought it was in his best interest not to tee it up tomorrow.’’
The 82-time PGA TOUR winner had seven bogeys and a triple bogey Saturday and just a lone birdie.
“As much as he’s working and trying, the body just won’t cooperate,’’ Woods' caddie, Joe LaCava, told Sports Illustrated.
Woods’ score Saturday eclipsed the 77 he shot in the opening round of the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. His highest score in any major is an 81 in intense rain and cold at the 2002 Open Championship.
“I just didn't play well,” Woods said Saturday. “I didn't hit the ball very well and got off to not the start I needed to get off to. I thought I hit a good tee shot down 2 and ended up in the water, and just never really got any kind of momentum on my side. I couldn't get off the bogey train there... I didn't do anything right. I didn't hit many good shots. Consequently, I ended up with a pretty high score.”
The PGA Championship is just the second tournament of the year for the 15-time major winner as he continues his comeback from serious leg fractures suffered in a 2021 car accident. Despite nearly having his right leg amputated after last year’s car accident, Woods made the cut in the year’s first two majors after a surprising return at the Masters.
Rory McIlroy, Woods’ playing partner the first two days at Southern Hills, called him “incredibly resilient and mentally tough.”
“He's feeling it. … He's feeling it on every swing,… (but) he's the ultimate pro,” McIlroy said. “Looking at him yesterday, if that would have been me, I would have been considering pulling out and just going home, but Tiger is different and he's proved he's different… it was just a monumental effort.”
Woods opened his third round with a nice 13-foot par save but lost his tee shot on the par-4 2nd hole into a creek and made bogey. A run of three pars followed before disaster struck on the par-3 sixth.
After pulling his tee shot into another water hazard, Woods missed the green from the drop zone and then failed to find the putting surface with his first chip. Unfortunately, the triple-bogey was just a precursor of more to come.
A bogey on the par-4 seventh was followed by another on the par-4 ninth after Woods hit the lip of the fairway bunker and advanced the ball just four yards. He shot 6-over 41 on the front nine.
Four straight bogeys on the back nine brought the specter of unwanted records into focus. But just as it appeared Woods would go without a birdie in a major championship round for the first time since the opener of the 2010 U.S. Open, the veteran poured in a 36-footer on the par-4 15th and jokingly responded by licking his finger.
Three pars to finish showed the fight hadn’t left the veteran despite the rough outing. He wasn’t alone as tricky winds saw others like Sepp Straka (79), Patton Kizzire (78), Maverick McNealy (78) and fellow former FedExCup champion Billy Horschel (77) also struggle.