ORLANDO, Fla. – Before the matches started, as a means of underscoring the comparative lateness of the hour here in the States, it was noted that if Tiger Woods’ foursomes opener at the Presidents Cup went all 18 holes, it would end sometime around 2 a.m., ET.
Not to worry.
Adam Scott and K.J. Choi sent American fans to bed far earlier than anticipated.
With the worst beating of his career in international play, the former world No. 1 and partner Steve Stricker were buried in 12 holes, suffering a 7-and-6 loss in alternate shot on Thursday at Royal Melbourne.
It matched the worst beating in the history of the Presidents Cup and marked the lone loss on day one by the American side, which jumped to a 4-2 lead.
Even the analysts on the Golf Channel called their play “terrible,” and that was being generous.
Stricker and Woods were 4-0 as a team at the last Presidents Cup matches in 2009, but given the particulars of the present, that likely wasn’t going to happen again this year. Woods hasn’t won in over two years and Stricker hadn’t played in two months because of bulging disc in his neck.
“Unfortunately, they got off to a quick start and we couldn’t keep up,” Woods said.
The Dream Team was pounded across the board. Stricker and Woods were 3 over for 12 holes, didn't win a hole and couldn’t muster a single birdie. Meanwhile, Scott and Choi were solid, and ended the match when the South Korean rolled in a 10-footer. The International team was 3 under over the same stretch.
“The other guys obviously didn’t play their best,” Scott said, charitably.
There were no vestiges of the recent verbal tiff between Woods and Scott’s caddie, Steve Williams, who worked for 13 years for Woods before being fired over the summer. The pairing, the final foursomes match off the tee during the opening day, drew a huge strong, perhaps half the crowd estimated at 25,000 for the day.
If they came to watch an ugly upset, they got one.
Not to put words in his mouth, but somethere, based on his publicly known proclivity for bluntness, Williams is probably calling this one an "arse-whipping."
“It seemed like we were always just a little bit off,” Stricker said.
Since the event began in 1994, the only other time a match went 12 holes was when South Africa’s David Frost beat American Kenny Perry by the same score in 1996.
Have they lost the magic? After a solid start as partners at the Ryder Cup last year, Stricker and Woods lost their last match, 6-and-5, which represented Woods' worst Ryder defeat ever.
Not surprisingly, Woods will be paired with Dustin Johnson in Friday's best-ball format, against Aussies Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley.