The former world No1 missed the cut and not by the skin of the teeth as he produced his worst finish at a major.
Seven over par after his opening round, Woods reappeared on the first tee on Friday playing mostly for pride and came up a mile short. He holed a 15-foot curling putt on the first green but thereafter it was one-way traffic, with bogey piling on bogey and, as the nadir was reached on the 11th and 12th holes, double bogey followed double bogey.
He conjured up a pair of mid-round birdies from the recesses of his memory but the impression left as he traipsed from one side of the fairway to the other, from one bunker to the next, was of a man bereft.
For those who were counting, Woods signed for a three-over-par 73 and a 36-hole score of 150, which is 10 over par for the tournament, missing the cut by six shots. It was a pitiable effort by any standard, especially by a player of his glorified stature.
At least Woods did not give up. For that he deserves credit but it could not outweigh his embarrassment. Far from it. There are 20 club professionals in the field at Atlanta Athletic Club – men who make their living selling cashmere jumpers and giving lessons to club hackers – and half of them finished above the man proclaimed by some to be the best to have ever played the game.
"It's a laundry list,'' he said on Thursday when asked what he needed to do to improve his game in the weeks and months ahead. If so, then top of the list is a desperate need to rediscover his passion for the sport. If he does not there could be more days like this ahead.
That would be a shame for Woods and an even greater shame for the sport. The next generation of world-class golfers have revealed themselves over the last year, not least Rory McIlroy, but Woods still has the allure to outshine most, as he proved on Friday. When he is bad he is worth watching, but when it is very bad, as he has been this week, he is strangely compelling.
Afterwards, the former world No1 looked defeated even as he struck an optimistic note. "It's a step back in the sense that I didn't make the cut but it is a giant leap in that I played two straight tournaments healthy. That's great for the practice sessions I have got coming up," he said.
The American's on-course travails bookended a day which began with the troubles of McIlroy, whose presence at the course was in doubt after he injured his wrist during the first round.
Much energy was expended overnight as speculation mounted over the extent of the injury and much electricity was wasted as six television cameras recorded the "breaking news" of his arrival on the practice range half an hour before his 8.35am tee-time.
The wrist was strapped up, the pain was numbed by a couple of over-the-counter pills and, trooper that he is, McIlroy took himself to the first tee and went to work. What followed was something of an anti-climax but predictably so. It is hard playing golf at this level with a one-handed follow-through and McIlroy proved as much with his three-over-par 73.
He defended both his decision to play on and his much-maligned caddie, JP Fitzgerald, who was criticised by some for failing to talk his man out of hitting that fateful shot from beside a tree root on Thursday.
"If I didn't think I could contend I wouldn't be playing. If I can shoot a decent round on Saturday, a 65 or 66, and then do the same on Sunday then we will see where that leaves me,'' said McIlroy, before he mood turned from optimistic to sharply sarcastic as he dismissed the criticism of Fitzgerald. "He's my caddie, not my father."
There is a case to be made that McIlroy should rise above the fray but it is a misguided one. The Northern Irishman speaks his mind. He is a walking, talking, breathing headline. And where would golf be without characters like that?
Perhaps the answer can be found on the halfway leaderboard, featuring the nondescript US PGA Tour pros, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner, and otherwise low on names that would be recognised by anyone other than attentive students of the PGA Tour's website.
That is likely to change over the weekend of a major championship but even so the likes of Adam Scott, on two under par for the tournament, and Lee Westwood, who is one shot further back after a second-round 68, cannot afford to make many mistakes over the next 36 holes if they, and we, are to have a tournament to remember. "I thought at the start of the week that six under par would win the tournament,'' Westwood said. "And maybe it still will."
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