Tiger Woods falls through trap door in quest to end major drought


LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- It was 5:30 in the afternoon and the big crowds that had surrounded the sixth hole at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on the last day of the British Open had moved on. The golfers battling for the title were long gone too.

But there was Rob Courchere of Ottawa as well as Raj Guha and Charlie Parker, both of London, still hanging out, snapping pictures.

The attraction? Tiger’s Trap.

It was there, a few hours earlier, that yet another attempt to win his 15th major title had come unglued for Tiger Woods. The big galleries followed the contenders, but people such as Courchere, Guha and Parker had a sense of history. So did the organizers of the British Open, who had posted a guard on the sixth hole, just to prevent any shenanigans.

But the stragglers were allowed to take pictures, and some even stood in the now-fabled greenside trap, in the exact spots where Tiger was tamed by a Royal Lytham & St. Annes sandy demon.

“It’s the Tiger Trap now,” Courchere said. “They gotta put a sign there.”

The hole is a 490-yard par four. Woods had walked up to it six under par and right in the midst of the title chase. There are nine bunkers on the sixth hole from 73 yards in. On his approach shot, Woods flew well over most of them, but caught one on the left, just shy of pin high. The ball not only settled into the sand, but was in a fried egg indentation and so close to the front wall that his prospects for exploding out were slim.

He said later that he was attempting to bank his shot off that wall to his right and behind him into the gallery, where he would get a free drop. It didn’t work that way.

The ball ricocheted off the wall, but to his left. It nearly hit him, which would have been a one-stroke penalty, and it settled near the wall again, just lower in the trap. This time, he had no place to stand in the trap, so he became part contortionist, doing sort of a split on the grass alongside the trap and leaning down to hit the ball.

That attempt looked even more impossible than the first, but Woods somehow got it high enough out of the sand to graze it off the bunker lip and out well to his right, 50 or 60 feet away on the lower part of the green.

Few mortals could have escaped that predicament in the two shots Woods did. But it did him little good, because he ended up three-putting and taking a seven. That was only the second seven he had ever taken in a major tournament.

Woods said afterward that the shot he hit into No. 6 was a six-iron and its presence in the pot bunker could have been avoided.

“It was one yard [off],” he said. “One yard. Yeah.”

Woods finished with a 73 and a 277 total that was within four of Ernie Els’ winning 273. The seven, instead of a conceivable birdie three, clearly cost him. But then, as he and all the players say, that’s golf.

There remains plenty of golf lore here, but they may now make room for more.

The Tiger Trap. It has a ring to it.