(Reuters) – Tiger Woods enjoyed one of the most famous moments of his career on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass but on Friday the hole exacted its revenge when a quadruple bogey all but ended his hopes of victory at the Players Championship.
Woods was sailing along smoothly, within striking distance of the lead, when he arrived at the 146-yard par-three hole with its distinctive island green.
He pulled his tee shot a touch, but it looked like luck was on his side when the ball landed on the edge of the green before rolling on to the small sliver of land that serves as a bridge to the putting surface.
His luck did not last, however, and as the gallery groaned the 14-times major champion’s ball trickled over the back and into the water.
Woods compounded his problems by pulling his next shot from the drop zone, a mere 90-yard pitch that most professional golfers could execute with their eyes closed.
The ball took one bounce and disappeared into a watery grave beyond the green, forcing him to reload from the same position.
Woods finally found the heart of the green with what was his fifth shot, and two-putted for seven.
“The second wedge shot, I hit it too flat but the first one I was a bit surprised it went that far,” Woods told reporters.
“I took something off that wedge and it flew a lot further than I thought.
“I mean both shots I’m just trying to hit the ball into the slope and just walk away with a 20-25-footer and move on about my business.
“I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that.”
Woods had never previously made worse than double bogey at the hole, and put only four balls into the drink at the 17th in 68 rounds since his tournament debut in 1997.
There were only four other water balls at the hole from the entire field on Friday as calm conditions made it play about as easy as possible.
The quad was the only blemish on Woods’s card. He notched five birdies in a one-under-par 71 that left him nine strokes behind halfway leaders Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.
The 17th is where Woods sank a downhill 50-foot birdie putt from the fringe in the third round en route to victory at the 2001 Players Championship.
“That’s better than most, that is better than most,” television commentator Gary Koch famously said as the ball trundled downhill toward the hole, before dropping in the cup as Koch exclaimed one more time “better than most”.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond/Nick Mulvenney)