breaking news: Scottie scheffler is been forced to…

The 48-year-old’s alarming statement overshadowed a second round in which Pinehurst No 2 once again bared its teeth. Ludvig Aberg, the remarkable young Swede leads by one on five-under, with Rory McIlroy only two behind. But the main talking point as the day came to a climax was Woods.

His 73 for a seven-over total was commendable considering his injury and inaction, but Woods was clearly disheartened with his second missed cut in the major in as many months.

“That was probably the highest score I could have possibly shot today,” he said. “I’ve only got one more tournament this season – I don’t think even if I win the British Open I don’t think I’ll be in the [PGA Tour] play-offs. Just one more event and then I’ll come back whenever I come back.”

Then he produced the bombshell. When asked if this was his last US Open, Woods replied: “As far as my last Open Championship or US Open Championship, I don’t know what that is. It may or may not be.”

Will Tiger Woods play another US Open after missing the cut at Pinehurst? – Getty Images/Alex Slitz

Woods received a special invite from the USGA to play here in North Carolina and this could be a case of him not taking anything granted for Oakmont in 2025. But he is qualified for the Open for at least the next 12 years and his comments in that regard were curious, to say the least. At St Andrews two years ago, he was in tears when waving goodbye on the Swilcan Bridge 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.”

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.

Rory McIlroy shot a two-over 72 on Friday but is only two back of the lead – Getty Images/Andrew Redington

On a baked-out layout, the world No 1 is aware that playing a game of catch-up is at best unfeasible, even if you are the best player in the game.

Not only was his golf unScottie-like, so, too, was his demeanour. Normally so cool and composed, the 27-year-old threw his putter in the air and did not even bother to try to catch it after his birdie putt went awry on the 15th (his sixth).

Two holes later and his caddie, Ted Scott, hardly helped his employer’s temperament with his blunt comment after Scheffler’s hard pull on the par-three 17th. “Maybe the worst golf shot I’ve ever seen you hit,” Scott said. The bagman has earned at least $2 million this season, so there is gratitude for you. In fairness, it was a shocking sight.

Granted, everyone knew that no reputation is safe on Pinehurst No 2 and its beastly greens. But nobody expected this. This was Scheffler’s first major round as a professional without a birdie – and this was his 66th major round

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