Tiger Woods struggled to a four-over-par 75 and missed the cut on Friday at the US PGA National, a frustrating return from a three-month layoff as he looked ahead to July’s British Open.
It was only the 10th time Woods had missed the cut in a US PGA Tour event since turning professional in 1996, the last early exit coming at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, two weeks before sharing third at the British Open.
The 14-time major winner, chasing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18, finished 36 holes at Congressional Country Club on seven-over 149 in his first competitive rounds since undergoing back surgery on March 31 to relieve a pinched nerve.
Woods, who has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open, had not played competitively since March 9 at Doral, where he fired a 78 for his career-worst final-round score.
The 38-year-old American was trying to shake the rust off his game ahead of the British Open in three weeks at Royal Liverpool, where he won the Claret Jug in 2006.
Three weeks after that will come the year’s final major, the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where Woods won the PGA crown in 2000.
Woods was inconsistent on Friday, seldom able to combine solid tee shots, approaches and putts although he was strong at moments in all three areas.
He parred the first three holes after hitting into the rough, found the fairway at four but missed a seven-foot birdie putt, then needed two shots to escape a greenside bunker at the fifth, making a double bogey.
Woods had a 60-foot eagle putt at the par-5 sixth but settled for par and left a seven-foot par putt on the edge of the cup for bogey at eight.
He rallied with a 26-foot birdie putt at the ninth and a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 10th, moving within one stroke of the cut line.
But Woods made bogeys on the next four holes to doom any chance of reaching the weekend.
Woods hit into the trees off the tee at 11 and 12, missed the green at the par-3 13th and found greenside rough at the 14th and was unable to rescue par.
It was his longest bogey run since this year’s third
round at Torrey Pines when he suffered five in a row.
Woods, winner at Congressional in 2009 and 2012, has fallen from first to fifth in the world rankings during his layoff.
His 79 career titles are three shy of matching Sam Snead’s PGA record.