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Tiger Woods says he might have played last US Open after missing cut at Pinehurst

Woods received a special invite from the US Golf Association, the governing body, to play here in North Carolina and this could be a case of him not taking anything granted for Oakmont in 2025. Yet because of his choice of words there are inevitably concerns that Royal Troon next month might also be his last Open.

In truth, that would make little sense unless he was retiring, as Woods is qualified for the Open for at least the next 12 years. But at St Andrews two years ago, he was in tears when waving goodbye when crossing the Swilcan Bridge on the famous 18th and he later acknowledged that he could not be sure if would ever play another Open at the Old Course.

Woods has always railed against the prospect of becoming a ceremonial golfer and still turning up when he believed he could not win, and recently he has talked about the Catch 22 situation in which he is stuck. With his battered body, and in particular the damaged right leg which he so almost lost in a car crash three years ago, he cannot play competitively too often. But he knows he needs to do exactly that if he is to have a chance of contending again.

The irony is that he looked physically fitter here than perhaps at any time since he relaunched his career. But he was not keen to wax lyrical about any positives. “My ball-striking was good enough to be in contention and I’m not,” Woods said. “It is frustrating because I’m not here to have a chance to win on the weekend.”

Next stop Ayrshire where the long-term questions are sure to rain down.

It was a jolting ending to a torrid Friday, which saw world No 1 Scottie Scheffler scrape inside the cut mark. McIlroy dug deep to remain in touch and while playing partner Scheffler was also in full shovel mode, the American’s perspiring efforts only created a hole in which his US Open hopes are all but buried.

After a two-over 72, McIlroy was bemoaning a bogey on his last hole (the ninth) but at least he was still in what he called “a great position going into the weekend”.  That is infinitely more than can be said for Scheffler after his 74 left him stranded on five-over.  

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