Tiger Woods finishes at 18 over with 77
AKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods concluded his worst event as a professional golfer on Sunday morning by shooting a 77 at the Bridgestone Invitational, capping a stunning week that saw him shoot 18-over par for four rounds and finish in a tie for 78th in an 80-player field.
It was not the tournament anyone expected from the No. 1 player in the world at a place where he typically dominates, having won seven times and never finished worse than a tie for fifth in 11 previous appearances at Firestone Country Club.
"Shooting 18-over par is not fun,'' Woods said afterward. "I don't see how it can be fun shooting 18 over, especially since my handicap is supposed to be zero. ... It's tough. Yeah, it's tough.''
Hunter Mahan won the event, running off five birdies on the front nine to make up a four-shot deficit, delivering three clutch pars down the stretch to protect his lead and closing with a 6-under 64 for a two-shot victory over Ryan Palmer.
Mahan earned $1.4 million to lock up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, one of his primary goals this year.
Woods, whose personal life has been in disarray since his Thanksgiving accident, said his performance "doesn't surprise me at all, actually.'' Later, he would only say, "It's been a long year.''
Woods shot all four rounds over par at a tournament for the first time since the 2003 PGA Championship and shot three of his worst scores in 48 rounds at Firestone this week.
The tie for 78th is his worst finish in a tournament in which he completed 72 holes (he's missed six cuts in his career) since a tie for 60th at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, which was his first tournament as a pro. He also tied for 67th at the 1997 Memorial, which was shortened to 54 holes.
It is only the fourth time in his career that he failed to shoot par or better in any round, the other three being major championships.
The only thing I can say all week is I was patient, and unfortunately that's not enough.” -- Tiger Woods
"The only thing I can say all week is I was patient, and unfortunately that's not enough,'' he said.
Asked what he needs to do to turn it around, Woods said, "I need to hit the ball better, I need to chip better, I need to putt better and I need to score better.''
Woods' performance here will again raise questions about his participation in the Ryder Cup, Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales. Woods is not among the top eight who automatically qualify after next week's PGA Championship.
Asked if he wanted to play in the Ryder Cup, Woods said: "Not playing like this, definitely not, not playing like this. I mean, I wouldn't help the team if I'm playing like this. No one would help the team if they're shooting 18-over par.''
Asked if he would pick himself right now if he were captain Corey Pavin, Woods said, "I think I can turn it around, but we've got a lot of time between now and then, which is good.''
And he got an endorsement from likely Ryder Cup participant Anthony Kim, who was playing in his first event since thumb surgery in May and was paired with Woods on Sunday.
"You can't not pick the guy,'' Kim said. "In match play and events like that it's about who wants to win more and who's going to suck it up more and who's going to grind through bad golf shots, tough situations and sometimes a hostile crowd. I know he wants to win and I would love to have him as a teammate if I make the team.
Sobel: Weekly 18
Jason Sobel delves into the many Tiger questions. Can he win the PGA after the flameout at Firestone? Is Jack's 18 still reachable? Oh, and how about a coach, but not the kind you're used to working with TW. Weekly 18
"It's surprising that he's not playing well. Whenever he doesn't play well is surprising. But he'll get through it. He's a tough guy. And I know he wants to win.''
Woods said he had similar struggles when he changed his swing early in his professional career after winning the 1997 Masters. Woods won just once in 1998 and did not win another major until the 1999 PGA.
"It took me two years to get it back before I started playing well,'' he said.
Although some time off to get his game together would seem to be in order, Woods said he has no choice but to try and be ready for the opening round of the last major championship of the year, the PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Whistling Straits.
Woods, who was finished with his round by 11 a.m., said he would be leaving for Wisconsin immediately.
"I'm out there today,'' he said, suggesting he might get in some practice at the venue north of Milwaukee. "I could probably play and still watch the guys finish [the Bridgestone].''
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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