It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
In a week which started with so much optimism.
A fresh, healthy start.
A new, faster swing.
A new, “fun year” a confident Tiger Woods said just four short days ago when he arrived in Arizona.
As the skies rained down Friday morning in north Scottsdale, so to did a reign of bad shots off Woods’ clubs. So many that when he exited stage left for the quick commute to his private jet he sat in dead-last place after shooting a career-worst 82. He missed his 12th career PGA Tour cut.
He stepped to the podium and started with a well-placed icebreaker.
“I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” Woods dead-panned flashing his classic smile and shiny new tooth.
He may have been grinning on the outside but his two-day stay was tearing him up on the inside.
Arguably the most dominant athlete of his generation is a shadow of his former self.
It’s gone and from the looks of it, it isn’t coming back now and possibly for quite some time.
The same can likely be said for the 39-year-old’s return to the Waste Management Phoenix Open next year.
Friday’s second round featured just two birdies sprinkled among six bogies, two double-bogies and a “snow man” on number 15.
Woods’ camp was “banking on” Arizona as spring-board to help jump-start the season. The blueprint was predictable: get back to Phoenix and capitalize on the Super Bowl spotlight, while at the same time showcasing his “remodeled game.”
The calculated risk failed.
His early season options are limited now after, back in October, the Dubai Desert Classic no longer offered Woods the $2-3 million appearance fee saying it’s no longer “financially feasible.”
It’s become an ugly trend.
In the sad end Friday afternoon someone asked him about the “crowd sympathy” and he noted the “incredible support.” This is the reason the 47th-ranked Woods sits behind guys named Brooks Koepka, Ryan Palmer, Gary Woodland and other not-so-household names.
Who could have imagined anyone ever asking the head-strong, defiant Woods this softball?
He remains one of the world’s most polarizing figures but he’s fighting his play and, equally important, his body as he nears his fourth decade.
The desert waited 14 years for a Tiger sighting.
The way this ugly stay went–don’t expect him back anytime soon.