In 2002, Tiger Woods was on the top of the golfing world when he came to Muirfield on Saturday, having won the Masters and the U.S. Open and seeking a grand slam.
He was two shots behind Ernie Els, poised to make a run. And then Mother Nature obliterated his chances, forcing Woods to shoot his worst round as a professional–an 81.
Eleven years later, Woods is seeking redemption–and his first major since he won the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg at Torrey Pines–after shooting an even-par 71 on Friday to be at -2 for the tournament.
This weekend, he is only one shot back, and he will face Mother Nature–and an unyielding golf course–again, and his mental makeup may advantage him over other golfers on a course Phil Mickelson said would produce some “carnage” over the weekend.
In recent years, Woods has had disappointing ends to his rounds at the majors, missing frustrating putts on the 18th hole that sent him into the next day without momentum and probably in a foul mood.
Not this year at Muirfield.
Woods made a clutch par putt on the 18th hole on Thursday, and drained a rare birdie on the 18th on Friday.
He has struggled on the weekends at major tournaments since his last major victory and all of the personal and physical problems he has had since then. Perhaps his putts on the 18th hole are signs that this weekend will be different as he seeks to win his 15th major to reignite his lifelong quest to break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles.