The Tiger-Woods-is-back lobby must move on to the next major to prove their case. For now the 2012 version of the legend will have to settle for being a fine golfer capable of winning on his day. This was not his day. A birdie at the last eased the disappointment but a final round 73 was not the requirement, and nothing like the man at his best.
After five successive pars, he effectively removed himself from the piece at a stroke, or rather three. Marooned up against the face of a greenside bunker he took two to come out, the second owing more to his yoga classes than golf. The first attempt saw the ball ricochet behind him into an even more inhospitable place. This required him to crouch on all fours to fashion an escape. Three putts later, Woods had racked up a seven for a first triple bogey at a major for nine years.
"The game plan was to fire it into the bank, have it ricochet to the right and then have an angle to come back at it. Unfortunately it ricocheted to the left and almost hit me. Then I tried to play an interesting shot after that and ended up three putting," Woods said of his sandy adventure.
Woods was out of position on the next but this time the luck was with him, his chip from the fringe darting into the hole for a birdie after catching the base of the pin. He got it back to five under with two more birdies at the 10th and 12th, at which point the game of snakes and ladders shifted into reverse with a hat-trick of bogeys.
"Overall I'm pleased with the way I played, unfortunately just a couple here and there ended up costing me some momentum, especially today at Six. Again, I left a lot of putts short out there. The greens were a little bit slow and I tried to put some more hit in my stroke, but they were dying off the front of the lip."
The appearance of Carlos Tevez at The Open was the key diversion earlier in the day, performing the role of ceremonial caddie for Argentine compatriot Andres Romero. Despite complaining of tight trousers – caddie's universally dress in shorts – Tevez was thrilled with his day. "The course is beautiful. The chance to walk along the course and to be around these great players is a pleasure and something unforgettable."
Somehow one felt that his manager at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, did not share his enthusiasm for lugging a 40lb weight across his back for four hours. Romero did Tevez a kindness by leaving water out of the bag. Nevertheless his caddie felt the strain. "It was difficult to carry the bag because it weighed so much, but it was fine. I couldn't give any advice about the slopes but I just carried the bag and supported him each hole. Romero is a professional and he knows everything already. We worked together very well."
Romero came home in 74 for the highest aggregate in the weekend field, 18 over par. The degree of difficulty, if not the discomfort of trousers and bag, persuaded Tevez that football remains the game for him. "I will stay playing with my friends as an amateur. The golf bag hurts my shoulder too much and my pants were very tight," Tevez said.
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