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How Tiger Woods plans to move on from his US Open struggles

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The look on Tiger Woods’ face for the four hours he lumbered around Pebble Beach on Sunday in his U.S. Open final round said it all: He looked defeated and devoid of energy.

Woods began the day even-par through the first three rounds of the tournament, 11 shots out of the lead and with no hope of winning or even sneaking into contention. He closed out the tournament with a flurry after a start that appeared to be utterly indifferent, shooting a 2-under 69.

Woods was 4-over for his round through the first six holes, the easiest stretch on the course, though he went on to birdie Nos. 7, 8, 13, 14, 16 and 18.

When Woods walked off the course, eventual winner Gary Woodland was on his seventh hole and 11 shots ahead of him.

When Woods won the Masters in April and captured his 15th career major championship, ending his 11-year drought without a major, visions of him winning a 16th and inching closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 were dancing in people’s heads.

Conventional wisdom that memorable day at Augusta was that the 15th major championship for Woods, because of the long period of time in between 14 and 15, would be his most difficult to pick off.

Yet Woods, without playing a warmup tournament between Augusta and the PGA Championship in May, missed the cut at Bethpage and was never in contention this week.

Though Woods, as a habit, never announces which events he’ll play in, it seems unlikely that he’ll play a tournament between now and the British Open in July at Royal Portrush. After his round Sunday, he predictably did not reveal his upcoming plans.

When asked when anyone will “see him again,’’ Woods flippantly said,
“Depends if you’ve got a camera phone.’’

“No,’’ he went on, “I think I’m going to take a little bit of time off and enjoy some family time.’’

Asked what sparked the turnaround in his final round, Woods, sounding perplexed, said, “I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that.’’

“I got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. I turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is normally it’s a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it [with low scores].’’

Woods said once he got off to the poor start through six holes, he set a goal of trying to get back to even par.

“Can I somehow get it back to even par for the day and the total?’’ he said “That was our goal. I happened to get a couple more out of it, which is great. It was a nice finish to get 2-under par.’’

What’s next for Woods with the British Open, the final major of 2019, looming?

“The furthest North I’ve been [in Ireland] is [Royal] County Down, I’ve never been up to Portrush, and I’m looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out,’’ Woods said. “[I’ll] definitely have to do my homework once I get there.’’

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