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Woods wobbles, but at least he’s back

TIGER Woods was only three shots behind Rory McIlroy after Thursday’s first round of the British Open with his three-under-par 69.  He embellished that with five birdies over six holes in a mini revival of his explosive ways in the not-so-distant past.

Golf buffs were in Cloud 9.

Woods’ fans went partying in the streets deep into the night.

TV networks seized the moment, unleashing armies of ad gatherers in anticipation of ratings shooting through the roofs again in the Open’s last three rounds.   

For, is the game’s greatest draw back—finally?

Is Woods’ aching back completely healed after it had undergone surgery to repair a pinched nerve in March?

Will his knee and leg, subjected to surgical procedures before the back pain came, hold for the next three rounds?

Yes is the answer to the first two questions.

But the third one has a weird answer:  The knee and leg seemed to be OK, but not Woods’ game.

His rebellion was quelled—by his own errant driver, no less.

The euphoria of his first-day 69 quickly vanished in the first two holes of his second round, where he made double-bogey and bogey.

 Eerily, that set the tone of his day.

The world watched in disbelief when he couldn’t find birdie for the next 14 holes—all ending in pars.  Very unWoods-like.

Then, with his stubbornness to use the most uncooperative driver yet in his career, he hit out-of-bounds on 17. Triple bogey.  Five times he used driver in blunder-bound Round 2.  A bizarre and terrible twist since he used driver only once the entire week when he won this oldest of all four majors eight years ago.

But if only for consolation, the 14-time major winner Woods birdied 18, ramming home what could be the most important 10-footer in this shakiest stage of career.

Had he missed that, it would have given him a first ever back-to-back cut after missing weekend play in the Quicken Loans National in Maryland’s Congressional won by Justin Rose late last month.

That was a monster, ego-saving birdie, OK, but after 36 holes, Woods found himself 14 strokes behind McIlroy to virtually, if not literally, rule himself out of contention in the year’s third major.

McIlroy’s second straight 66 on Friday put him at 132, the same two-day total that Woods had posted en route to winning his third British Open in 2006 held on this same course, the Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.

You think that 14-shot, two-round lead was big enough to cause a cruise to victory?

Think again, fellers.

McIlroy wasn’t done yet.  In Round 3, he shot 68.  Woods limped home with 73.

That put Woods 19 shots behind McIlroy.

Miracles happen but, hey, not this way, please—Woods overhauling such a monstrous margin to win it?

God doesn’t operate that way or His mystery could become mere myth? 

I guess God had frowned on Woods’ post-Round 2 brag that if Paul Lawrie could erase a 10-shot deficit to win the 1999 British Open, he, too, could do it.

Very Woods-like, OK.  But God knows best.  Optimism is good, but not arrogance.  As the Good Book says, the humble are exalted and the exalted humbled.

Woods was third-to-last at three-over-par 219 (69-77-73) going to the fourth and last round Sunday in the 156-man field that had four amateurs—with Juvic Pagunsan, the lone Filipino entry, making 76-73 to miss the cut by 3 strokes with his 149.

But sure, Woods wobbled in his comeback but then, if only because he made the cut, good enough.

The fact that he is back, and made the cut even measly, means he has brought the sun back to a world made despicably dreary by the absence of the game’s No. 1 draw.  Still.

 *   *   *

 ALL IN    Happy birthday today to Malaya Sol M. Sadiwa.  Mayasoh, as she is fondly called by those dear to her, will celebrate the day with her Nanay and Tatay, Aya and Ricky; brother, Ikap, via a quiet dinner in the company of possibly her cousins Mayo, Dada and Migel, Ninong Dayong and Nanay Soh and Tatay Ah. Mayasoh, by the way, is the birth mate of Danny “Sir John” Isla. The day Mayasoh was born at St. Luke’s, Sir John¸ then a senior vice president of Toyota Motor Philippines, pleasantly surprised Mayasoh’s Nanay with a doll and a bundle of flowers.  It’s been nine years since.  Time flies, indeed.  Today, Sir John is the president of Lexus Manila, Inc.  Happy birthday, too, Sir John!  As the song goes, “Sa iyo ang inumin, sa iyo rin ang pulutan…”

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