Single page view By Skip Bayless
Page 2

I miss Tiger Woods.

I still root for him. I cringe for him. But I no longer trust him, because he doesn't trust his rebuilt swing, especially with a driver in his sweaty grip.

For the first three rounds of the U.S. Open, Woods also had shockingly little faith in his putter. That changed in Sunday's final round – until it really counted. So once again, we were teased and ultimately tortured by the New Tiger, who gives us only flashy flashbacks of the player who, for a three-year stretch, conquered golf the way no man ever has.

Tiger Woods
Tiger just couldn't get a good handle on the greens at Pinehurst.

Man, I miss the Old Tiger.

His performance on Sunday reflected the horizontal stripes in his shirt. Woods always wears red on Sundays – his power color. But this time he wore alternating red and orange neon stripes. Sometimes, his game was pure power red. Other times, it was Halloween orange, scaring you like the bogeyman.

Who was that guy behind the Tiger mask?

With everyone who's anyone in golf trickling down Pinehurst's leaderboard like balls off the crowned greens – with the Singhs and Mickelsons begging Woods to win the second leg of the Grand Slam – the New Tiger lost to Campbell.

Not Chad Campbell – losing to him wouldn't have been quite so shameful. Chad Campbell has the game to win two or three majors.

Unless I fell asleep and had a bad dream – Tiger Woods lost to Michael Campbell.

No offense to Michael, who in 1995 led the British Open after three rounds. Michael has always had a fair amount of unrealized potential. But Michael was playing in this Open only because the United States Golf Association held its first qualifying tournament in Europe.

"I almost didn't come," said Campbell, who described himself as "little ol' me from New Zealand."

Please, I'm taking nothing away from Campbell's valiant victory. He made the clutch shots and putts that Tiger couldn't. Yet Campbell won only after Woods lost.

Playing ahead of Campbell, Woods bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17. Repeat: Tiger Woods bogeyed when he once birdied. Yes, the New Tiger butchered those two holes just the way he bogeyed 17 and 18 on Sunday at the Masters. But at Augusta, he won because of a Nike commercial of a chip on 16 that was equal parts genius and luck – and because his playoff opponent was not Singh or Mickelson or Els, but Chris DiMarco.

It was as if the golf gods were rooting for a Slam. First DiMarco, now Campbell? If Woods had won the Open, who would have been the last man left in his way in the British Open at one of Woods' favorite haunts, St. Andrews – Jean Van de Velde?

I heard Saturday night from a caddy for a prominent player, who said: "It's over. Retief Goosen is an assassin. Best clutch player in the world, and he has a three-stroke lead going into the final round of a tournament he's won twice. Forget it."

I was convinced.

Then Goosen shot an 81. He came out of a wedge-shot approach on No. 2, and the ball and Goosen's game rolled off the right side of the green. This will go down as the worst final-round collapse by a world-class player in major-championship history.

Continued...


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