Woods has early triple at Memorial, then regroups

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 02, 2013
For the second day in a row, Tiger Woods made a triple bogey before he had a birdie. ''It wasn't that bad today,'' he said. ''It was just one hole that cost me, obviously, a few shots.'' Woods, stricken with an erratic touch on the greens for most of the week, continued to struggle to find his game early in Sunday's final round of the Memorial Tournament. It took nine holes to make a triple-bogey 7 on Saturday. A day later, it took three. After opening with two pars, Woods' iron shot to the signature par-3 12th found the back bunker. Faced with an awkward stance - his left leg extended and his right knee resting on the edge of the trap - he advanced the ball just 15 feet, but at least improved his stance. ''I was just trying to put the ball against the face on the upslope on the other side so I had a chance to spin the next one,'' Woods said. ''It actually rolled back on the bottom where there's no sand.'' From there he blasted out, the ball running down a swale in the middle of the green, rolling to the first cut. From 14 feet, however, he three-putted for the triple. ''I hit a decent (second shot from the sand) and it obviously skipped by,'' Woods said. ''The first (putt) was awful; just bad speed. The second putt I pulled as well.'' The five-time Memorial winner and defending champion regrouped with five birdies against one bogey the rest of the way, but the damage had already been done. His closing even-par 72 left him at 8-over and a tie for 65th, 20 shots behind winner Matt Kuchar. It was the farthest Woods had finished behind a winner in a full-field event. He finished 30 shots behind Hunter Mahan at Firestone in 2010 and 20 shots behind Tom Lehman in the 1996 Tour Championship at Southern Hills. Both those tournaments have limited fields with no cuts. Woods had sagged to an 8-over 44 on the back nine in Saturday's third round - the worst nine-hole score he has had since turning pro. That was part of a 79, which matched the second-worst score he's had since playing for pay. His score of 296 was his worst in 14 trips to the Memorial - eight shots higher than his previous high. --- OVERHEARD: On the 11th tee, a spectator saw the mass of people following Woods' threesome, including several sheriff's deputies, and said, ''Look at all the Secret Service agents following him!'' Later, a woman near the 13th green watched Woods approach the green and said, ''I don't really believe he wants to be here.'' Seconds later, she added, ''Of course, I think he wanted to leave yesterday.'' --- SORENSTAM IS SELECTED: Each year the Memorial Tournament honors a prominent player or contributor to golf. The honoree this year was Raymond Floyd, a contemporary of tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus, who won four major championships. On Sunday, the body which oversees the tournament announced that the 2014 honoree would be former LPGA star Annika Sorenstam. Sorenstam had 89 worldwide wins - the most by any female. She won 10 major championships in a stellar 15-year career. The Swede was selected as the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year from 2003-2005. In 2001, she became the first woman to break the 60 barrier, shooting a 13-under 59 in the second round of the Standard Register PING, still the lowest round in LPGA history. From 2001-2005, Sorenstam won 43 times and finished in the top three nearly 70 percent of the time. After winning three times in 2008, Sorenstam abruptly retired from competitive golf at the age of 37. She and her husband, Mike McGee, have two children. She will be honored in a ceremony the day before the start of the 2014 Memorial. --- LOOKING TO MERION: With the U.S. Open coming up this month at Merion, the top players hoped to use the Memorial Tournament as a stepping stone to the next major championship. Rory McIlroy opened with a 78 and needed to shoot a 69 on Friday just to make the cut at Muirfield Village. He followed that with rounds of 75 and 72 and declared himself primed for the Open. ''It feels OK, actually. I found a couple of little things this weekend,'' said the world's No. 2-ranked player. ''I hit the ball much better today. I actually putted a little better, too. It feels pretty good.'' McIlroy said he'll spend a couple of days in the Philadelphia area next week practicing at Merion. Woods, a spot ahead of McIlroy in the world rankings, is hoping to end a major championship drought that goes all the way back to 2008. He said he was ready to turn the page after his worst Memorial performance, finishing at 8-over 296. ''It happens. It happens to us all,'' he said of his bad week. ''I'll go home next week and practice.'' Asked what he'll work the most on before heading to the Open, he said, ''Everything. You want everything clicking on all cylinders, especially at the U.S. Open - because everything is tested at the U.S. Open.'' --- GETTING WET: Mike Weir drew a huge round of applause - for not giving up on a difficult shot. Weir's iron shot to the par-3 16th stuck near the bank of the lake which fronts the green. Rather than take a drop, Weir assayed the situation, stepped back, rolled up his pant legs, took off his shoes and socks and waded in. ''That was maybe the most precarious one that I was actually going to (hit),'' the former Masters winner said later while laughing. ''Usually there's some sort of a bank and you step a foot in the water and it gradually slopes. If there was a little bit of slope, I could have put my foot down, but it dropped off. I don't know how deep it is but it was deeper than I am tall.'' For at least a minute or two, he wobbled and wavered in water almost knee deep, trying to find a foothold as the large gallery surrounding the 16th green watched expectantly. At least twice he lost his balance and had to steady himself like a daredevil on a high wire. Each time the spectators yelled, moaned and applauded as if they were on a roller-coaster. ''Oh, I was teetering,'' he said. ''I was totally testing my balance.'' Finally, he took a wedge and, steadying himself for an instant, took a swing that popped the ball out onto the green 20 or 25 feet past the flag. The crowd went wild. Weir pumped his fist and laughed. Later, he thought maybe the spectators were hoping to see him take a swim rather than make a great shot. ''They were hoping, probably, that I fell in. I'm sure they were,'' he said with a grin. ''I was thinking, `There's 50-50 here' that I was going to go down.'' Playing partners McIlroy and Brandt Jobe waited for him to dry off and get his clothing back in order. He went on to bogey the hole, but still got cheers as he walked off to the 17th tee. --- Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP
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