Tiger Woods at British Open 2014: Grading Day 2 Performance at Royal Liverpool

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2014

Tiger Woods at British Open 2014: Grading Day 2 Performance at Royal Liverpool

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    Peter Morrison/Associated Press

    ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said it best during the ESPN broadcast when he read the body language (face language?) of Tiger Woods during Friday’s round. “That is one unhappy dude right now,” he noted.

    Woods, who shot a 77 Friday, had a very unsavory round of golf after what was such a promising Thursday. He was three-under par Thursday and very much back. His stretch of five birdies in six holes on the back nine was reminiscent of a Woods thought long gone. He defied everyone’s expectations (except, most likely, his own).

    Friday’s round, on the other hand, was probably the round everybody expected from him on Thursday. The first two holes alone erased his red number from Round 1.

    This is how bad it got for Woods at the end. Doug Ferguson, golf writer for The Associated Presstweeted, “Tiger suddenly in danger of missing the cut. 3rd off the tee as far left as the other one was right."

    Woods’ lone birdie on 18 bought him 36 more holes of golf.

    Read on to see how Woods made the grade.

Driving: D

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    Peter Morrison/Associated Press

    Woods was horrific off the tee. There’s no other way to phrase it. Woods famously used his driver only once when he won the Open in 2006. He already had the driver out of the bag on the first tee to start Friday’s round.

    It foreshadowed what we’d see the entire day.

    Woods sailed his first driver way left and subsequently zig-zagged across the hole and double-bogeyed to start the day.

    Every time Woods pulled out the driver he found the rough, deep rough, which left him uncontrolled wedges and irons into the greens.

    Partway through Woods’ round, the AP’s Doug Ferguson tweeted, “So Tiger has hit 3 drivers at Hoylake and only one has landed in the hole he was playing.”

    After his round, Woods told reporters during the ESPN broadcast:

    I didn’t hit the driver very good today. I was trying to be more aggressive with the wind the way it was and take some of the bunkers out of play and get it down there where I can hit sandwedge from the rough into the green. Angel [Cabrera] was doing that yesterday with a more difficult wind. I figured today would be a good chance to do that and take the bunkers out of play and just didn’t drive it well.

    This club needs to stay in the bag. He’s not drilling fairways like Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott or Dustin Johnson. They’re the modern-day bombers. Woods needs to scale it back if he’s to put low numbers on the board this weekend.

Iron Play: C+

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Woods was decent when he gave himself a chance to use his long to short irons. The problem was he only hit seven fairways all day Friday.

    When given the chance to hit out of the short grass, Woods hit nine of 18 greens on the day. Compare this to yesterday’s round where he hit 14 of 18 and it’s no wonder he struggled scoring birdies.

    His long iron in often left him with a very long, very challenging birdie putt. It’s difficult to grade his iron play because it is so predicated on his driving. Our own Ben Alberstadt gave Woods a B+ yesterday so it’s only logical to drop Woods a full letter grade Friday.

Around the Greens: B-

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    Peter Morrison/Associated Press

    Woods work around the greens was sloppy with intermittent brilliance. On seven, he stubbed a chip that left him with a 12-foot putt to save par to keep him even for the tournament. He would hit that putt, but he made that par awfully difficult on himself.

    After going three-over through the first two holes, Woods was in the deep rough on the third hole beyond the green. His wedge shot landed him within two feet for an easy putt for par—his first in a string of 14 straight pars.

    Woods addressed the media during the ESPN broadcast:

    Not very good. I got out to a terrible start once again and I had some opportunities to make some birdies to get back to even par and just never did. Never made anything. I had myself in good positions to make birdies and just didn’t do it.

    Woods will have to be masterful around the greens if he’s to get back under par. It doesn’t appear he’s capable of cleaning up his driving, so that puts all the more pressure on his short game to save face.

Putting: B+

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    Peter Morrison/Associated Press

    Woods is averaging 1.64 putts per hole, dead even with the rest of the field in the Open.

    His Friday round could have been under par if he had hit just half of his long putts. Very often his first putt was from 20 feet and beyond. He lagged those putts to within one or two feet almost every time. His second putts were often tap-ins.

    He made every putt he was supposed to make. The problem was that his driving led to poor approach shots, which put him in unreasonable positions to make birdies.

    Woods made just one birdie all round—on 18—a putt that kept him at the cut line and afforded him another two days of major championship golf.

    Expect Woods to continue putting well. If his iron play can set him up for eight to 10-foot putts, Woods could very well threaten to get in the top 10. Listening to Woods, he still thinks the may have a chance.

    Woods told reporters during an ESPN press conference:

    It gives me a chance. I’m pretty far back. Luckily I’ve got two rounds to go. Hopefully I can do something like Paul [Lawrie] did in ’99. I think he made up 10 in one day. Hopefully I can play well on the weekend and give myself a shot at the back nine on Sunday.

Course Management: C

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    He had the right idea on Friday, but Woods actual execution of his course management was totally off. It was a different wind on Friday versus what these guys had on Thursday. This was why he went with a driver for 33 percent of the holes. Woods said afterward on ESPN’s broadcast:

    It all depends on the wind. With this wind I felt I could take a lot of the bunkers out of play. If I drive it well I have a sand wedge or a 60-degree sand wedge into the Par 4s. The rough is thin enough where you can control it with a sand wedge.

    After the first hole (certainly after the second) he should have realized that the driver simply wasn’t working. Yes, his plan was to carry the bunkers and leave himself with a short iron, even a wedge. This happened exactly zero times. Somewhere, Hank Haney guffaws.

    Woods was great with the three-wood hitting 3-of-3 fairways with it. Yet Woods chose to get real aggressive with the driver and deal with the repercussions.

    Woods said during the ESPN broadcast, “I couldn’t carry the bunkers that was the thing. Either you lay up short or go over the top. I decided to take a bit more on today and try to clear them.”

    Woods needed to call an audible and go short. He was dead-center every time he stung his three-wood. Going forward Woods must leave the driver in the bag and take his chances laying up. Just like Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Final Grade: C

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    At first glance it would be easy to give Woods and even lower grade than a C. Opening three-over and then triple bogeying the par-four 17th put him at a major risk of missing the cut—the only time he would have missed back-to-back cuts as a pro.

    What kept Woods in this tournament were 14 straight pars on the back of great lag putting that gave him easy pars. Many of those easy pars were blown birdie chances, but he kept grinding it out.

    Woods gets a C because he erased all his hard work on Thursday with his driver on the first two holes Friday. He wanted to be aggressive and carry the bunkers, but all that did was put him in the thick rough giving him no chance at birdie. He kept with it and didn’t audible.

    Paul Azinger said on the ESPN broadcast following Woods’ round:

    Let’s face it. Tiger is masterful at his ability to game plan. He adjusted it and he just couldn’t execute. There’s a lot of reasons why. He has not played any golf. He hasn’t played any golf. You can forgive that. Is he going in wrong direction? Is he making changes that are necessary? Is he going in the wrong direction? That is the deeper question I feel.

    Woods is 14 strokes behind McIlroy and seven strokes out of the top 10. If he’s to even get a whiff of that he needs to clean up his driving. All the guys at the top are killing the ball and hitting it straight.

    The good news is Woods buys himself two more rounds of golf. Like Azinger said, "He has not played any golf." His lone birdie on 18 bought him more golf.