MAMARONECK, N.Y. — MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- He might have left Stanford after two years, but the education of Tiger Woods continues. Woods keeps learning that playing in the other majors isn't as easy as it was at Augusta National in this year's Masters.
It happened in June at Congressional, where Woods wrecked his chances in the U.S. Open with three double bogeys. It happened last month at Royal Troon, where Woods shot himself out of contention with two triples and a quad.
And it has happened here at Winged Foot during the 79th PGA Championship. After playing his way back in the hunt with a miraculous birdie on the 16th hole in yesterday's third round, Woods might have left himself in need of an even bigger miracle today the way he played the last two holes.
Woods double-bogeyed the 17th hole -- his second double bogey of the day and his third of the tournament -- and bogeyed the 18th. It left him at 1-over par 71 for the round, 1-over 211 for the tournament and eight shots behind co-leaders Davis Love III and Justin Leonard.
"I thought I was very patient today," said Woods, who followed an eagle-3 on the par-5 12th with a bogey on the par-3 13th. "I just hit too many bad shots and you just can't afford to do that. And I did make some mental errors out there which cost me a couple of shots."
At 17, Woods hit his approach into the rough short of the green. He would hit his next shot over the green into the rough, then chunk his chip before putting with a 3-wood. He wound up 10 feet away and made the putt for double bogey coming back.
It appeared that Woods pulled his groin after hitting from the rough on 18. As he walked up the fairway, Woods was limping noticeably. His third shot hit the green and rolled back short. He chipped six feet past the hole and made the putt for bogey.
Asked if he injured himself, Woods said, "Yeah, I did. I hurt my ego. Physically, I'm fine. It was disappointing to finish the way I did after being in contention just three shots back, going into the last round and then do something that dumb. That's not what you want to do."
The ill-advised shots on the last two holes followed one of the most remarkable shots Woods has hit in his already storied career. After his drive on the 457-yard, par-4 16th hole landed in the right rough between two trees, Woods cut a 6-iron that found the green.
The ball rolled a foot in front of the pin, and stopped 12 feet away. Woods made the putt for birdie, putting him 2-under and three behind at the time. He punched the air and exhorted himself. But the charge proved short lived.
When someone asked whether his ability to create great shots sometimes leads to his thinking he can do it all the time, Woods said, "I hit the wrong shot going into the green on 17. I knew that a holding 7-iron wasn't going to get there. I went against what I thought and it backfired."
Eight shots behind, it seems unlikely that Woods will be able to put up the kind of low score he might need to get back into the hunt. Especially on a course as difficult as Winged Foot.
"A lot really depends on what these guys do coming in," said Woods. "If Davis and Justin are out there making birdies, then it's going to be tough to catch them tomorrow. But if they make some pars, then make an occasional bogey, any guy who's 2-over par is still in the ball game."
Woods came into the tournament with a healthy respect for the course, and it has grown each day. The rough, in particular, has been particularly troublesome to the 21-year-old phenom. The five holes on which he missed the green in regulation he played in 6-over par.
Is it the toughest he has ever played?
"It's definitely up there," he said. "I would rate either this one or Shinnecock [for the 1995 U.S. Open]. But this golf course is pretty tough and thank God the fairways are wet where the ball is sticking. If it was running through these fairways, this it would be brutal."
It was brutal enough.
But sometimes you have to learn the hard way.
Pub Date: 8/17/97