Tiger Woods started well at The Open this year – but it all went horribly wrong, and he ended up with round of 69, 77, 73 and 75 to finish six over par, and in the bottom three of the tournament.
After that opening round there had been high hopes that he could challenge, with fans and pundits whispering that, perhaps inspired by memories of his 2006 victory at Hoylake, he might again hit those majestic heights.
But by the end of the week those had crumbled beneath a steady shower of bogeys, and so much so that one BBC commentator even suggested live on air that perhaps Woods should retire from the sport.
Utter rubbish, of course. It's true that he may never be the force he once was in the game, but there are still lots of positives for him to take away from Hoylake.
1. This was only his second event back after surgery
Anyone who's ever had a major operation will know that recovery isn't a case of waiting how long the doctors tell you too, and then you're suddenly 100 per cent. Recovery is like growing a tree: you plant it and feed it and water it, and at some point it starts bearing fruit - but it takes a long time to really start flourishing.
2. He's got a history of coming back stronger
Last time Tiger had major surgery was after winning the 2008 US Open. After months out of the game he came back with some shaky-ish performances - including a first-round defeat at the WGC Match Play. But he then won six times in the next six months - including coming second at the US PGA Championship.
3. He's still on course to match Jack Nicklaus's Major record
Jack Nicklaus's 18 Major championship victories, wrapped up in 1986 with a Masters win, used to be one of the records in sport that was considered unbeatable. Tiger Woods, after winning his 13th Major at the 2006 US PGA, looked absolutely certain to beat it. Yet despite winning just one biggie since then - the 2008 US Open - Woods is still just 38 years old, the same age Nicklaus was when he won his 15th Major. He needs to win the US PGA next month to stay in tandem, but he won't be miles behind either way.
4. He's still a birdie machine
He had a terrible second round, where his only birdie was on the 18th to make the cut. But other than that, Tiger has made plenty of birdies at Hoylake this week: six in his first round, five in his third round and three in his final round. His problem is that he has made three double bogeys and two treble bogeys at Hoylake - 12 shots gone right there. And those bad holes, where a poor shot turns into a seven instead of a rescued par, are nothing more than a bit of ring rust. Compare and contrast that with Rory McIlroy's par save from a horrible spot on the right hand side of the 13th green on Saturday - a spot that Woods might have made double bogey from given how his week has been.
5. Slumps are a part of golf
It's easy to look back at Tiger Woods going without a Major championship win since 2008 and conclude the he's all washed up. But all golfers go through slumps, no matter what level they're at. For Bunker Mentality, it was an 18-month period of s****ing the ball every time I faced a short-iron shot off a fairway (always fine from the rough, very odd); for Woods, it's a few years without a Green Jacket or a Claret Jug. Tiger has been through similar lean spells before: he was winless in Majors between the 2002 US Open and 2005 Masters, for example, but came back to win four Majors in the next two seasons.
6. He's still The Man
For all the brilliance of McIlroy and the dazzle of Phil Mickelson, there's still nobody who catches the imagination like Woods. He's still the big man, and to Bunker Menality's mind, he showed enough to suggest he can still prove it. Ask yourself a question: would you have got to the end of this article if it was about anyone else? Enough said.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Jack Nicklaus