Tiger's miscues yield woeful finish

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BETHESDA, Md. -- Late Friday afternoon at Congressional Country Club during the second round of the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods made four consecutive bogeys in the middle of his round to secure his 10th missed career cut in 299 professional PGA Tour starts.

His usually raucous fans were now resigned to saying, "Tiger, we're just glad to see you back." They understood this was not the same Woods that won 79 tour events, including 14 majors.

After missing the cut on Friday by 4 shots with rounds of 74 and 75, Tiger also knows he is not that same player. But like those fans who stayed with him through his miserable showing, he's just thankful to be back.

"I have a lot of positives to take away from these last two days," Tiger said Friday evening. "The fact that I was able to even play. I came back four weeks earlier than we thought I could.

"I had no setbacks. I got my feel for playing tournament golf. I made a ton of simple little mistakes, misjudging things and missing the ball on the wrong sides and just didn't get up-and-down on little simple shots."

But these are issues, he said, that he can correct in time for the start of the Open Championship, which begins July 17 in Hoylake, England.

Tiger proved this week that he is not yet ready to contend at Hoylake, where he won the Open in 2006, or in most any big tour event.

At Congressional, he made so many mental errors and silly mistakes that if you didn't know it was Tiger, you might think you were watching a tour rookie. Paired with the 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and the 26-year-old Jason Day, the 38-year-old 18-year tour veteran was unconvincing as the elder statesman in the group.

How could missing the cut by 4 shots not hurt Tiger's confidence? He is a prideful man and one of the most competitive players in the sport. It was painful to watch his mistakes. Perhaps only he could find a silver lining in this embarrassing performance.

"I hate to say it, but I'm really encouraged by what happened this week," Tiger said. "I missed the cut by 4 shots. That's a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically and the speed I had and distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time."

Heading now to a vacation with his two young children, Tiger will take a healthy back into Hoylake and the confidence to hit his driver at a competitive speed, among other things.

But will he also take with him to England the litany of mistakes that cost him a chance at playing this weekend at Congressional?

Tiger says that he can correct all of these blunders. Yet how does he expect to work out these kinks without playing competitive golf? This week should have shown him more than anything that he needs more tournaments heading into Hoylake.

Perhaps he should consider playing the Scottish Open, the week before the Open Championship. He never plays the week before the Open, but that would give him rounds to recharge some of those competitive instincts that were absent from his game on Thursday and Friday at Congressional.

Tiger will miss more cuts in the near future if he can't correct those mental errors that come in large part from a lack of competition. Sure, he has to take care of his body after many injuries over the years, but two rounds aren't enough to assess his readiness for Hoylake.

"I'm very excited," Tiger said about Hoylake. "I'm excited to play that course. I don't know how it's changed since we played it."

Hopefully, his primary concern is how much he has changed as a golfer since the last time he played there in 2006. He discovered some answers to that question this week that he should use to get ready to not just play, but to compete and win.

His fans at Congressional were happy that he was there, but they will be happier when he starts to play well again and realistically get on a path to win more majors.

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