Even when you have safely switched your brain into energy-saver mode, which is generally the preferred setting for watching golf on television, certain messages and patterns will tend to imprint themselves. A couple decades of watching Tiger Woods playing golf in a red shirt on a Sunday at Augusta National conditions an almost autonomic response at this point. The knowledge that Woods is in the back stretch of his career is in some sense useful, but also not really. That Woods won The Masters outright last year is also both salient and unimportant. The expectations are ingrained at a level deep enough that reason and circumstance don’t really touch it. This is a natural response to watching someone win the same golf tournament 15 times in roughly the same outfit.
Anyway, something to bear in mind while watching Tiger Woods, in his red shirt, shoot a dang 10 on the par-3 12th hole at Augusta National on Sunday morning.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s: a tee shot that rolls into Rae’s Creek, the corresponding one-stroke penalty and a drop, then a wedge that also lands in the water, another stroke penalty and another drop, then a second wedge shot that nestles itself into the banked upswell of a back bunker, then a low laser of a shot from that bunker that sails over the green entirely and into the water for a third time, a third penalty stroke and a third drop, and then a shot out of the bunker that rolls onto the green. The missed putt and a tap-in that cap things off were, by comparison, pretty humdrum.
Run all those bloopers and penalties through our proprietary golf arithmetic and you will arrive at a classic septuple bogey, the famous and oft-used golfing term that we love to know. The last time Woods put up a score nearly this high was 1997, when he shot a nine on a par-4 at The Memorial Tournament in Ohio. (He had never previously shot 10 on any hole in his golf career, because he is quite literally Tiger Woods.)
After entering the weekend in contention in something more than the familiar ambient, he’s-wearing-the-shirt way, Woods has spent his last two rounds in core meltdown; on the 12th alone Woods went from three under par for the tournament to four over. The shirt still works, in its way. In another more specific way, though, nothing is working at all for Tiger right now.