- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 14, 2005

IRVING, Texas — Tiger Woods studied the line from both directions, consulted his caddie, then settled in over a 15-foot par putt that was packed with the quiet tension normally found in a playoff at a major championship.

It was only a Friday afternoon at the Byron Nelson Championship, a rare time for Woods to feel so much heat. The putt wasn’t for a trophy but to keep alive the longest cut streak in PGA Tour history.

“Every guy in the locker room was watching,” Jesper Parnevik said. “We’re not allowed to bet, but guys were offering $1,000 he would make it.”

That’s because Woods always seems to do just that.

Not this time.

His putt broke gently toward the right side of the cup, then straightened out and trickled a few inches by, a dramatic end to one of the greatest streaks in sports.

“I just had a tough day,” Woods said. “Things I don’t normally do, I did today.”

Topping the list was cleaning out his locker on a Friday.

A bogey on the 18th hole at Cottonwood Valley gave Woods a 2-over 72 and put him at 1 over par for the tournament, missing the cut for the first time in seven years and 143 tournaments. The cut was at even par.

“It was always going to come to an end eventually, wasn’t it?” Robert Allenby said. “Obviously, it was a [heck] of a feat. That record will never be broken.”

The streak dated to the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, when Woods withdrew after two rounds instead of returning nearly seven months later to complete the rain-delayed tournament. The cut is made after 54 holes at Pebble Beach because it is played on three courses.

The only other time he missed the cut in his 10 years on tour was the 1997 Canadian Open at Royal Montreal, where he also made a bogey on the final hole.

There have been 15 close calls over the years, most recently at the Players Championship when he bogeyed the final hole to make the cut on the number. But he always managed to come through.

“It’s never a relief when you miss a cut,” he said. “I’ve missed two of them so far in my career, and neither of them felt very good. It’s disappointing because you’re here for four rounds to try to compete and win a tournament. And now I don’t get that opportunity.”

Woods leaves that to a collection of lesser-known players.

Sean O’Hair, the 22-year-old rookie who turned pro before he left high school, shot 65 to join journeyman Brett Wetterich (67) atop the leader board at 9-under 131 in a tournament that now only has four of the Big Five.

Vijay Singh, who likely will return to No.1 in the world this week, had a 67, and Phil Mickelson shot 66 to be among those four shots behind. Ernie Els birdied the final hole for a 72 and was at 4-under 136.

Els now has the longest active cut streak on tour — 20.

The longest active streak in golf belongs to Annika Sorenstam at 48 on the LPGA Tour.

“I’ve got about a hundred to go,” Sorenstam said from Atlanta, where she leads by six shots. “What a great run, especially with the competition on the PGA Tour. It’s too bad to see such a great run finished.”

Perhaps it was only fitting that the end of Woods’ record streak came at this tournament. Byron Nelson held the record for years, 113 consecutive cuts during the 1940s. Woods broke that at the 2004 Tour Championship, one of 31 events during his streak that had no cut.

His streak in tournaments with a 36-hole cut ended at 111.

“Just the streak in itself is amazing,” said Kevin Sutherland, who played with Woods and Peter Lonard the first two days, unaware he would be part of a trivia question. “I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to make that many in a row. That shows how hard he plays every time he tees it up.”

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