Tiger Woods confronts his own history, both recent, and not so recent at the British Open on Sunday.
Woods is tied for second at -1 going into the final round. Lee Westwood is in first at -3.
Woods has never won a major when he comes into Sunday without the lead. Post-scandal, Woods has struggled on weekends at majors. Tomorrow he’ll be playing with Adam Scott, whose caddy is Woods’ ex-looper, Steve Williams — another quirk of history Woods has to confront.
So how does Woods overcome his history to win the Open championship?
It’s not complicated: He has to putt well.
His putting is what put him in a position to win this tournament, and it is what failed him on Saturday.
Early in the round, Woods had the solo lead after sinking a big putt on the second hole. From there Woods’ putting was just OK.
Woods missed only three fairways, and hit 12 of 18 greens. But other than the long putt on two, he didn’t make another putt that was longer than four feet, according to GolfWeek.
Still, he fought a very difficult golf course to stay even for the day, and -2 overall.
It’s not just putting, though. Woods has to either completely commit to his conservative strategy, or be willing to deviate from the script for calculated risks.
For the most part, Woods has been playing boring. Just safe woods and irons to the fairway, then safe woods and irons to the green.
There was a hiccup in his plan, though.
His round, and perhaps his tournament, turned when he reached the par-5 seventeenth hole. He was even with Westwood, who was his playing partner.
Playing straight into the wind, Woods decided to hit a three-wood off the tee. Westwood hit a driver.
Woods’ second shot was another three-wood. The wind knocked down his shot and he was in a brutal bunker. He had to punch out sideways, then hit a 100-yard approach to the green.
He should have either belted a driver, which would have made his three wood approach carry the bunkers. Or he should have continued his conservative ways, laying back with something weaker than a three-wood to avoid the traps.
Westwood carried the bunkers with his second shot thanks to his decision to hit driver off the tee.
Woods’ fourth shot into the green ended up ~17 feet from the hole, just a few feet past where Westwood’s third shot landed. Woods rolled his putt near the cup, tapped in for a bogey. Westwood then rolled in his putt for a birdie, taking a two shot lead over Woods.
At the eighteenth, Woods could have made a tough putt for a birdie, but he left it short. Westwood had two-putt to keep a two shot lead over Woods.
Westwood is playing very well. He’s the best player in the world without a major win. That suggests he’s either due for a victory at long last, or he’s going to keep up his own history of folding on Sunday.
Woods can’t count on Westwood’s bad history, though. If Woods wants to rewrite his own history, he needs to putt well, and commit to his strategy.
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