Tiger slumps to new low

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AKRON, August 9 – Tiger Woods looked and sounded like a broken man after his final round at the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday where he carded the worst 72-hole score of his 14-year professional career.Top-ranked defending champion Woods fired a closing seven-over par 77 to finish the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational at 18-over par 298 on a course where he has dominated in past years, winning seven times.

"It has been a long year," Woods said, choking up as he spoke to reporters.

That is as close as Woods has ever come to referring to his off-course problems as he struggles to cope mentally with the reported imminent divorce from wife Elin in the fallout from revelations of his multiple affairs.

Woods was set to finish tied for 78th in the 80-man field, shooting over par in every round of an event for the first time since 2003.

Woods could have surrendered his world number one ranking if second-ranked US compatriot Phil Mickelson had finished solo fourth or better at the WGC event.

But Mickelson soared to an eight-over 78 himself to finish 72 holes on three-over 283 to fall out of contention for the top spots.

With the year’s last major title at stake at next week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Woods looks unlikely to be a contender for a 15th career major triumph as he chases Jack Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18.

"I definitely don’t want to start 18-over next week, so it’s nice the tournament is over and we can focus on next week," Woods said.

"Shooting 18-over is not fun. I don’t see how it can be fun, especially since my handicap is supposed to be zero.

"I’ve got to be ready come Thursday. That’s all that matters. I need to hit the ball better, chip better, putt better, score better."

Woods said he did not know if he might take another extended break after next week.

He missed five months before beginning his 2010 season at the Masters last April.

Woods also said that while he right now did not deserve to be picked for the American team for October’s Ryder Cup showdown against Europe, there was plenty of time to turn his game around before the matches.

"I wouldn’t help the team if I’m playing like this," Woods said. "I think I can turn it around, but we’ve got a lot of time between now and then, which is good."

Woods’ performance was all the more shocking because he appeared to have his form on track at his previous two starts, including last month’s British Open at St Andrews, and had shared fourth at the US Open and Masters.

Asked if he was surprised by his woeful form at the WGC event, Woods replied, "No, it doesn’t surprise me at all.

"I could probably play 18 (more holes on Sunday) and still watch the guys finish."

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