This never happens. Never ever ever ever ever. Roger Federer doesn't lose in the first round of a Grand Slam event. Michael Jordan didn't foul out in the third quarter of Game 7s. And Tiger Woods doesn't miss cuts in major championships.
Before Friday at Turnberry, it had happened once in his entire career at the big four, and only four times in 232 career PGA Tour events. Tiger, seen as the favorite coming into the tournament by basically anyone that covers the game of golf (or sports in general), will miss the cut at a major championship for just the second time in his professional career after a second round 74 left him a shot out of the weekend. The last time Tiger wasn't around on a weekend was the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Say what you will about Woods' inability to make the weekend, but you can't doubt his passion and heart. Seven-over with three holes to play, Woods had to birdie out, which included one of the toughest holes at Turnberry, the par-4 16th (the hole Woods hit it into the Wee Burn at yesterday). Tiger calmly rolled in a birdie putt on 16, two-putted for birdie on 17 and had a chance to make the cut with a birdie on 18, but had 199 yards into the green and just couldn't put enough spin on the ball to get it close.
If Woods' play at the AT&T National was Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers," his game at Turnberry was fingerpainting with your eyes closed. Tee shots missed by some 30 yards off fairways. Putts off line. Iron play that never seemed dialed in. It was almost like someone else had stolen Tiger's golf bag and caddie and hoped nobody would notice.
The reason Tiger is normally so good even without his A game is because he can right the ship when things go badly, but the British Open sometimes doesn't allow that. The wind started to pick up just as Tiger started to fight his swing and it was all but hopeless for the world number one.
In the coming hours and days you'll be getting all sorts of Tiger talk. People will be screaming for his head and saying he is done and that he can't win anymore majors. The honest answer is Tiger didn't have his game this week and couldn't manage it around a course that played a lot tougher than some had expected. Just like at Muirfield in 2002, when Tiger shot a third-round 81, and at Bethpage Black earlier this year, when he opened with a 74, there is always another tournament and with Tiger, there is always another opportunity to be victorious. The play this week wasn't Tiger-like. But that doesn't mean we have to act like we're heading for Armageddon.