The obligatory handshakes were over, and there wasn't much left for Tiger Woods to do other than sign his scorecard and tell his pilot to gas up the Gulfstream.
TURNBERRY, Scotland — The obligatory handshakes were over, and there wasn't much left for Tiger Woods to do other than sign his scorecard and tell his pilot to gas up the Gulfstream.
The chef had to be notified, too, because Woods had worked up quite an appetite kicking away his British Open chances in a stunning collapse on the Scottish coast.
Greatest player in the world. Maybe the greatest golfer ever.
Gagging it up in front of everybody but the Queen.
Thankfully, Queen Elizabeth was off watching cricket so she didn't have to see the mess Woods made at Turnberry. She probably was waiting to come on Sunday, when she and the rest of Britain presumed he would be holding the claret jug trophy.
Instead, Woods was heading home early for only the second time in 49 major championships as a pro.
Heading home from a major championship a 59-year-old recovering from hip replacement surgery is leading. A tournament where a 16-year-old amateur from Italy easily made the cut.
Sure, Turnberry was hard. But it wasn't that hard.
Tom Watson proved that with two rounds that were 10 shots better than Woods. Watson, who is eligible for Social Security in three years, was playing just a few groups in front of the great one, so there was no difference in conditions.
Steve Marino played when the weather was even worse, and he's never even seen a links course before this week. Yet he was also 10 shots clear of Woods, the supposed master of the links.
Bookies figured Woods would run away with this tournament. Instead, he was last seen running away with two rounds left to be played.
All because of a six-hole collapse that proved even the great Tiger Woods is mortal after all.
So cancel the Nike commercials. Hold the texts to Roger Federer.
And give a nod to Jack Nicklaus, too. Woods has had a great run but winning majors is a tough business, and Nicklaus has still won more than anyone.
The only thing more shocking about Woods missing the cut for the only time since the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when his father had just died, was how it happened. He was cruising along the coastal holes of Turnberry making pars when a misplaced 3-wood off the tee on No. 8 set off a chain reaction — including a lost ball — that Woods could not bring under control until the 14th hole.
"It was just problem after problem," Woods said. "I just kept compounding my problems."
By the time Woods scrambled for par on 14 he was 7-over, all but done. He made two birdies coming in, but after missing the green on 18 needed to hole a chip from off the green to play on the weekend.
It came up short, and now he was done for good. A 71-74 might have kept him in contention in some majors, but in this one all it got him was a quick trip home.
"Obviously, you can't make mistakes and expect to not only make the cut but also try and win a championship," Woods said. "You have to play clean rounds of golf, and I didn't."
For Woods that has been the story in majors all year. He fought a bad swing at the Masters and fell short in a late run, and his putter cost him any chance at the U.S. Open.
Now he must win the stepchild of the majors, the PGA Championship, next month in Minneapolis or be shut out for the year in the only measure — other than his checkbook — that he keeps.
Unlike his other losses, this one can't be explained by a bad draw, a lousy swing or a balky putter. This was a pure mental meltdown by a guy whose mental toughness has never before been questioned.
"You don't often see him play shots like that, some of the shots he played," playing partner Lee Westwood said. "But everybody is entitled to a bad day every now and again. It happens to all of us."
It doesn't happen to Woods. Not like this, anyway.
That it happened this week is something he will have to learn from if he is to return to the intimidating player we once knew.
It might take some time. The disappointment from this one was deep. This was a collapse that could shake even his confidence.
Knowing Woods he'll analyze it all until he figures out what went wrong. As the sun went down over Turnberry, though, he had just one thing in mind.
"Head home," he said.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org