Even the greatest sportsmen of all time have off days. Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer of all time, is no exception to this. Woods, whose unadjusted scoring average in 2000 was 68.17, has fired rounds of 77 six times, 78 three times, and 79 three times. On one notable occasion in 2002, the world no. 1 carded a number even worse than any of the aforementioned.
So, the 14-time major winner has laid a few eggs in his time. However, the man Woods seems eternally to be chasing, Jack Nicklaus, once fired an 83 at the Open Championship during the prime of his career. Indeed, Nicklaus’ worst round as a professional came in 2003 when, well past his prime, he carded an 85 at the Masters.
Woods has a ways to go to record a score that poor. And if it weren’t for a Biblical front of bad weather at the Open Championship in 2002, it’s doubtful the Chosen One would ever have recorded a score north of 79.
Here’s a look at Mr. Woods’ worst rounds as a professional.
77. – 2011 PGA Championship, First Round
Woods opened with three birdies in his first five holes at the 2011 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. He followed with three double bogeys over the next 10 holes.
As Tiger said at the time,
“Got off to a great start today, was 3 under early, was having mechanical thoughts through those holes … and I thought, ‘I can let it go’ and play by instinct and feel,” he said. “And it just screwed up my whole round. I’m not at that point where I can do that yet.”
The 2011 PGA Championship was just Woods’ second tournament since the Masters. He’d been resting his injured left leg, and he returned to the course with obvious rust. After a second-round 73, Woods packed his bags, missing the cut in a major for just the third time in his career to that point.
77. – 2010 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, Final Round
74-72-75-77. Those are Tiger Woods’ scores from the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
As Bob Harig of ESPN wrote at the time,
“It is no stretch to surmise that the turmoil in Woods’ personal life is taking its toll, that the fallout from his very public indiscretions and the repercussions are causing enough distress to make playing a game nearly impossible”
The tournament was one of the few in Woods’ career where the golfer looked like he’d rather be elsewhere. Noted for always fighting to the finish and “grinding” away, Woods looked instead that week like he was simply there to collect a paycheck, as the tournament is without a cut, thus everyone gets paid. For his efforts, Woods received $35,875.
77. – 2002 Buick Invitational, Second Round
The most unbelievable element of Tiger Woods’ 2002 Buick Invitational performance wasn’t that he shot a 77 in the second round. Rather, it was that he carded that ungodly figure and still nearly won the tournament, finishing three strokes behind the winner.
77. – 1998 Buick Open, Third Round
The 1998 Buick Open is most often mentioned in the discussion of Tiger Woods’ professional career because it is the tournament where Woods’ record 142-tournament cut streak began.
Another notable element of the ’98 edition of the Buick Open, however, is the fact that Tiger posted a 77 in the third round of the competition en route to finishing four strokes behind winner Billy Mayfair.
77. – 1998 Bay Hill Invitational, Final Round
Tiger carded a 77 in the final round of the Bay Hill Invitational in 1998. The tournament, at Arnold Palmer‘s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, is one Woods has dominated in his career, winning it a record eight times.
He did not, however, show his best stuff on Sunday in 1998. His final-round 77 left him 10 strokes behind winner Ernie Els.
77. – 1997 Las Vegas Invitational, Third Round
Woods’ first professional win came at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. A year later, he carded one of his worst scores as a professional at the same tournament.
After opening with 64, Woods sputtered throughout the rest of the tournament, shooting the aforementioned 77, as well as a final-round 75.
78. – 1999 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Third Round
A third-round 78 at the 1999 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earned Tiger Woods a missed secondary cut. The poor showing didn’t hamper Woods’ future performance, however, as he won the Buick Invitational in his next start. Further, Woods finished inside the top 10 his next two times out following the win.
78. – 1996 Tour Championship, Second Round
In his rookie season on Tour, Tiger Woods carded a second-round 78 at the 1996 Tour Championship. A final-round 68, however, ensured a respectable T21 finish for the golfer.
78. – 2014 WGC Cadillac Championship, Final Round
Bad days at the office haven’t been limited to Tiger Woods’ first seasons on Tour.
Just this season, Woods fired a 78 in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The result was a function of the golfer’s ailing back as Woods played most of the round in obvious pain.
79. – 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, Second Round
When Tiger Woods fired a second-round 79 at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, he missed the cut for the sixth time in his professional career, up to that point.
The tournament was Woods’ second after returning from hiatus after revelations of his regime of infidelity. As Tiger said at the time,
Every day I do media, I get asked it, so it doesn’t go away. Even when I’m at home paparazzi still follow us, helicopters still hover around. Does it test you? Yes, of course it does. Is that any excuse? No, because I’m out there and I have the same opportunity as everybody else here in this field to shoot a good number. And I didn’t do it.
79. – 2013 Memorial, Third Round
At the Memorial Tournament in 2013, Tiger Woods’ performance in the third round was subpar…and not in a good way. The golfer fired a third round 79 that featured a front-nine 44. “It was a rough day. It was tough out there from beginning to end,” said Tiger after the round.
79. – 2014 Farmers Insurance Open, Third Round
At the Farmers Insurance Open in January, Tiger Woods missed the secondary cut when he fired a third-round 79. The season-opening effort was the second-worst score (tied of course) of the golfer’s professional career.
Woods went through one of the most dismal stretches in his career at the tournament, making bogey or worse on seven consecutive holes. Further, he had to hole a lengthy putt at the final hole just to break 80.
81. – 2002 British Open, Third Round
“The worst day of major weather ever.” “Awful weather, even by Open standards.” These were some of the descriptions of the third round of the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield.
One of the coldest, wettest afternoons at a major championship ever followed a relatively mild morning that saw some decent scores. Tiger Woods, teeing off in the afternoon, faced brutal winds and rain, which vanquished everyone who had the unfortunate luck of teeing it up in the afternoon.
“It was the hardest conditions I’ve ever played in,” Woods said in an interview with ESPN.com. “We weren’t prepared for that weather. I don’t think anyone was.”