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Tiger Woods deep-sixed by trouble on first six holes

3-9-07 Staff mug shot Herb Gould. phoby Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

3-9-07 Staff mug shot of Herb Gould. photo by Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

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Updated: July 19, 2012 6:24AM

SAN FRANCISCO — If it had been match play, the Olympic Club would have closed out Tiger Woods on the first six holes, 13 and 12.

The inconsistent superstar, who seemed well-positioned to win a major for the first time since the 2008 U.S. Open, faded to a final-round 73 and finished tied for 21st in this U.S. Open.

Woods went 6 over Sunday on the first six holes, a six-pack he had consumed in 3 over par the first three days.

Before the tournament began, Woods predicted that anyone who played the first six in even par would be ‘‘picking up a boatload of shots.’’ He was right on the money in his first two rounds, when he played Nos. 1-6 even par and shared the Open lead.

On Sunday, though, disaster loomed from Woods’ first shot. He missed the first fairway with a 3-wood off the tee, had to lay up and made bogey. Using iron on the No. 2 tee, Woods put his second shot in the back bunker for another bogey. On the par-3 third, he bladed his first chip and stubbed his second as the wheels came off for the 14-time major winner.

‘‘I was just a touch off,’’ Woods said. ‘‘I was still in the ballgame, but I got off to a horrific start. I never got it going early, and unfortunately I put myself out of it.’’

Woods, who was 3 under for his final 12 holes Sunday, said he leaves feeling encouraged about his game.

‘‘There’s a lot of positives to be taken away from this week,’’ he said. ‘‘I just have to apply them.’’

Marquee woes

Going into the tournament, two featured threesomes looked like good places to find a championship pick. It didn’t turn out that way.

Lee Westwood, who was a contender Sunday, held up his end for a while. But his Thursday/Friday partners, defending champion Rory McIlroy (10 over) and Luke Donald (11 over), the world’s top-ranked player, didn’t even make the cut.

Woods hung around until the third round, but one of his Thursday/Friday partners, Masters champion Bubba Watson (9 over), didn’t make the cut. The other, Phil Mickelson, barely made the cut and shot an 8-over 78 on Sunday, finishing 16 over.

And so, four of the featured six players shot a combined 46 over par. Another, Westwood, was stymied by a lost ball in a fifth-hole tree Sunday. And Woods had one of his biggest 36-hole major collapses.

Maybe television pairings have taken over the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

Beau knows Ryder Cup?

Could Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III really pick 17-year-old high school phenom Beau Hossler for the Ryder Cup team that will play at Medinah in September?

‘‘I think you can pick anybody you want,’’ Love said Sunday, ‘‘if he keeps playing well. As long as he’s American. If he has a blue passport, we’ll take him. Did you see that putt he made on the first hole? He putted in from off the green for par.’’

Even though Hossler finished an impressive 9 over par, tied for 29th in the Open, Love was kidding.

Don’t be surprised is there is a Ryder Cup in Hossler’s future, though

Repeats rare

The last 15 majors have been won by 15 different players. The last repeat winner was Padraig Harrington, who won the British Open and the PGA in July and August of 2008. The previous two U.S. Open winners — McIlroy (2011) and Graeme McDowell (2010) — were from Northern Ireland.

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