LA JOLLA, CA — Tiger Woods rolled in a 10-foot putt for par on his final hole Saturday at Torrey Pines, avoiding another bogey on his card. But the final putt wasn’t enough to keep him around for Sunday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
For the first time in his career, Woods failed to make the PGA Tour’s secondary cut, a reduction in the field that comes into play only when the 36-hole cut leaves more than 78 players.
Woods’ 7-over-par 79 at Torrey Pines’ South Course was his highest in 14 appearances in the event he has won seven times. He failed to birdie any of the par-5s over three rounds, finishing 4 over par on those holes.
And he heads to the Middle East for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour with, at the very least, some issues in his game.
“I’ve never seen him play like that,” said Jhonattan Vegas, who played with Woods during the third round.
Vegas is in some elite company.
It was among the five worst scores of Woods’ professional career. Only once has he failed to break 80 — an 81 in brutal wind conditions at the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield. There have been three other 79s — the 1996 Australian Open, the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship and last year’s Memorial Tournament.
Woods signed several autographs after signing his scorecard but declined to speak with reporters.
On Friday, Woods said he was “just a fraction off,” and lamented a few shots that barely ended up in the rough. And he discounted a six-week layoff having any factor.
“I wouldn’t say it’s rusty, just a fraction off,” he said. “At this level and golf courses like this it doesn’t take much.”
And yet Woods, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, had a mind-boggling stretch for him.
Starting on the back nine, things appeared routine enough through eight holes. He had made three birdies and two bogeys to stand at 2-under par for the tournament. He then hit a perfect drive, 302 yards, at the par-5 18th.
From there, everything unraveled. Woods’ second shot from 254 yards found the pond that fronts the green. His fourth shot went into a bunker over the green and plugged. He blasted out and two-putted for a double-bogey 7.
He then went to the front side where he doubled the first hole after a 3-putt — the first time he made consecutive double bogeys since the 2011 PGA Championship — and followed that with five straight bogeys.
Woods hit just 6 of 14 fairways and only 7 of 18 greens. He birdied the seventh hole which along with his par-save at the ninth hole kept him from shooting in the 80s. When he made the birdie at the seventh, Woods bowed to the crowd, mocking himself. He shot 42 over his final nine holes.
Twice, Woods stubbed chipped shots; several times he short-sided himself with approaches to greens. And to not birdie a single par-5 — in 12 chances — is stunning. Woods dominated those holes on his way to victory here last year. That was his seventh victory at the Farmers Insurance Open and he has eight total at the venue, including his 2008 U.S. Open triumph, his last major title.
It is fair to wonder if the idea of missing the secondary cut — called MDF for made cut did not finish — ever crossed Woods’ mind. The PGA Tour put it in place at the start of the 2008 season to help with pace-of-play issues in the final round; any time a cut exceeds 78 players, there is another cut after 54 holes to 70 and ties. There were 83 players who made the 36-hole cut.
He is still credited with making the 36-hole cut and receives money as if he had played the final round and finished tied for 80th. Only Michael Block finished worse among players who made the cut.
In his career, Woods has missed nine cuts on the PGA Tour, the last coming at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic. He also missed the cut last year at the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, just his 10th overall worldwide