WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - When it comes to the Greenbrier Classic, we've learned to expect the unexpected.
This year is following the script.
A 59 in Year 1. An improbable winner in a playoff in Year 2. And, now, Phil Mickelson missing the cut for the second straight year? That's almost as difficult to imagine as a derecho here. Then a 2-hour, 25-minute weather delay?
But the big story of this week, this tournament, has been the visit of Tiger Woods. Historic at a historic landmark course. The man came in chasing Sam Snead's victory record in Snead's lair.
In a sense, Tiger was this tournament. He was the man most traveled to Greenbrier County to see. It was Woods' first visit. The Tiger head cover for the driver was here. The stare, the confident walk was present. The crouching Tiger as he lined up a putt was here.
Now, it's all gone like a summer shower. He failed to make the cut.
"I didn't quite have it," Woods said. "I drove pretty well today, but didn't have a feel for distance."
If you don't think it historic, you should have seen Woods' following. The stands behind the No. 1 tee filled for his 1:20 p.m. group. It wasn't to see U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, who takes a one-stroke lead into today's third round. It wasn't to see Steve Stricker.
There was Woods, surely, all believed, many hoping, ready to redeem himself after a 1-over-par first-day performance. He showed up on that first tee in a green striped shirt with the Nike swoosh.
Charleston's Chuck Stump carried the standard, which informed fans of those in the group and their scores. He told the story of the volunteer who had the duty on Thursday - and failed to show. He was astonished. (Charleston's Jim Strawn cheerily stepped in.) It was an honor.
Anyway, Woods was announced as "the man who has dominated every phase of the game" at the first tee. Enthusiastic applause followed.
But prime-time Tiger did not.
He did smack his first drive a whopping 327 yards to the middle of the fairway. On his approach to the par-4, someone yelled "get in the hole," making the rest of us cringe. (Is that not old as our hills YET?) Woods made par.
The lovefest continued. Fans cheered on No. 2 as he walked by. One was disappointed, however, saying, he "could've at least waved." He did waver, though, missing a birdie putt, despite pointing, instructing it to go left.
Woods, by the way, did have nice moments with the crowd. On the No. 3 tee, he flipped a ball to a little girl, whose eyes lit like the skies later. Seconds later, however, he uncorked a drive on the 205-yard par-4. "No! No!" he cried, before asking where the ball went.