On Tuesday when Tiger Woods was asked where he expected to finish at this year's British Open he replied curtly.
"First," he said. "That's always the case."
So those were the expectations going in. Not by us in the media, but Tiger himself. He always expects first. Instead, he nearly finished last in the clump of 72 golfers who made the cut -- the worst 72-hole finish of his career in a major.
When asked how he would grade his week he ducked the question:
Tiger was asked to give himself a grade for the week. "I'm not going there," he said. Didn't know that was an actual grade. #TheOpen— Jay Coffin (@JayCoffinGC) July 20, 2014
Woods went out and shot another ugly 75 on Sunday that included yet another double bogey (his third of the week). I woke up this morning to him spraying drives and dropping f-bombs, which became the norm over the last three days at Hoylake.
Here's a look at his card:
Woods said he was expecting rust.
"I was certainly expecting it, yes, but I just thought that I know how to play links golf," Woods said. "I know how to grind it on these golf courses, and hitting the shots I thought I could get around here. I did the first day. After a bad start I got it back. And unfortunately, as I said, I made too many mistakes with the doubles and triples."
So do we pin that all on the back surgery he had in March and the lack of "feels" between then and now?
That's certainly part of it but also consider this: We are judging Woods currently by the ridiculous historically great standards he set for himself in the early 2000s.
Historically great golfers always finish in the top 25 of majors and usually contend to win. Don't believe me? Just check out this stretch from Jack Nicklaus.
So maybe -- and I'm going to give you a minute to process this because I know it's borderline unfathomable -- Tiger Woods is simply a great golfer these days and not an historically great one.
Simply great golfers play poorly in majors. Adam Scott finished T45 in the 2013 US Open. Rory McIlroy missed the cut at last year's British Open. Phil Mickelson did the same at the 2014 Masters.
These are great players, it happens, and for now -- and probably the rest of his career -- Tiger is walking among these mere mortals. I know that's hard for some folks to swallow but it's the new golf reality.
The thing I don't understand is why it has to be all or nothing when it comes to Tiger.
About to enter the "world is writing Tiger off" stage of his career. They did Jack and he won 2 majors at 40. Greatness doesn't die easily.— Rich Lerner (@RichLernerGC) July 20, 2014
What if he's just Justin Rose right now? A terrific player who's capable of of winning multiple times a year and will likely win or at least contend in a few more majors? Why is that so bad?
I suppose letting go of the past is one of the more difficult things for folks to swallow. When fans years from now Google his name and see that Tiger burned his way around Royal Liverpool in 270 strokes back in 2006 en route to major No. 11, it's no wonder the 294 he did it in this week is going to sting even more.
Welcome to the new order, though. Tiger will get better as he plays more over the next few months but that version of The Man who held the Claret Jug near the River Dee back in 2006 is history.