REUTERS -Tiger Woods’ ‘Holy Grail’ of eclipsing the record 18 majors won by fellow American Jack Nicklaus looked more remote on Friday after he missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Though Woods ended a two-and-a-half-year drought on the PGA Tour with victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, he no longer exudes the aura of dominance he once enjoyed and he continues to struggle for consistency.
At last month’s Masters, he completed his worst performance at Augusta National since he turned professional in late 1996 and he has not won a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Ever since his world was seismically shifted by lurid details of his marital infidelities at the end of 2009, Woods has mainly battled on and off the course.
His marriage disintegrated, he battled injuries to his left knee ligaments and Achilles tendon earlier this year and has been working through the fourth swing change of his career with coach Sean Foley.
Woods came to Quail Hollow for this week’s event confident he had solved the ball-striking problems which plagued him at the Masters but once again he found old habits creeping back into his swing.
”It all has to do with my setup,“ 14-times major champion Woods told reporters after shooting a one-over-par 73 for an even-par total of 144. ”If I get over the golf ball and I feel uncomfortable, I hit it great.
”It’s just that I get out there and I want to get comfortable, and I follow my old stuff, and I hit it awful.
“All the shots I got uncomfortable on, I just said I‘m going to get really uncomfortable and make it feel as bad as it possibly could, and I striped it.”
Woods totalled 33 putts in the second round at Quail Hollow, frequently failing to reach the hole with his first attempt on the green, as he missed the cut by one shot and finished 12 strokes behind pacesetting American Nick Watney.
”I just don’t hit it hard enough because what my sight sees and what my feel is telling me are not what it is, and they’re not marrying up.
“Consequently all my putts were left short,” Woods said after mixing two birdies with three bogeys and benefiting from a bizarre free drop at the par-five fifth where his wayward second shot was deemed to have been pocketed by a spectator.
Asked to sum up his feelings after a disappointing week at Quail Hollow, Woods replied: ”Well, it’s frustration. I finished, what, 12 back of the lead, and I‘m not playing the weekend where I have a chance to compete for a title.
“I’ve missed my share of cuts in the past, and they don’t feel good.”
However, Woods said he had to stay patient while working with Foley on his re-tooled swing, having taken a while to fully understand the overhauls he made with Butch Harmon, from 1998, and with Hank Haney, from 2004.
“With Butch it took me two years and with Hank it took me almost two years before old patterns are out,” he added.
“It takes hundreds of thousands if not millions of golf balls, but eventually it comes around. I’ve had my share of successes, and I know it’s coming.”
Woods is scheduled to compete in next week’s Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida where he won the title in 2001 but was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of injuries in each of the last two years.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue