By Sally Fahey
Near misses were the story of Tiger Wood’s day as he shot a disappointing 3-over-par 75 to finish at 4-over for the tournament, happy to make the cut but well out of contention, a whopping 13 shots behind second-round leader Patrick Reed.
“I hit my irons awful today,” Woods lamented afterward. “I didn’t control my distance, my shape, spins. I left myself in bad spots. Then I hit so many beautiful putts but nothing went in today.”
He also had all that trouble on the par-5s, the holes he has dominated so often in his storied career here. Tiger didn’t birdie a par 5 until 31 holes into the tournament, when he tapped in on the 13th. By that point, he was 5-over par and flirting with the cut line. That birdie was followed by another on the par-5 15th, but he then gave it right back by bogeying 16.
As a contrast, Reed birdied all eight of the par-5s the first two days. Tiger took advantage of only two of them.
No hole told the story of Tiger’s second round better than the first. Woods’ day began like a dream, with a majestic opening drive. Woods couldn’t have loved his first tee shot any more had he run 340 yards down the fairway and placed the ball there himself. But with a wedge in his hand and just 93 yards to the hole, he missed the green to the left, then hit a poor chip and missed his par putt. One hole down and Woods fell to 2-over.
“That wasn’t exactly a great start,” Woods said.
The mistakes he wasn’t making during his fine run on the PGA Tour in March were haunting him Friday.
He fell further behind at the fifth hole, when his approach flew the green and landed in the woods, forcing him to take an unplayable lie. He punched out of the trees into the sand and ended up with a double-bogey.
After the disappointing par at the eighth hole, he faced a testy 15-foot putt for par on the ninth. With a large gallery ringing the green, Woods made the putt. And with that came, finally, a roar. In years past, the crowd would have erupted for a birdie. Now, the biggest cheer for Woods was for a measly par. He left that green at 4-over.
Things got worse when he sent his tee shot into Rae’s Creek on the par-3 12th for a second consecutive day – an unthinkable development for Tiger in his heyday. He escaped with his second straight “good” bogey, but he walked to the 13th tee right on the cut line, 5-over.
After the two birdies on the par 5s, there was the one last bogey on No. 16, and one more missed opportunity, a 15-foot birdie putt that slid by the hole on 18.
Woods was reflective after the round when reminded he had no idea if he’d play again after his four back surgeries.
“Six months ago, I didn’t know if I’d be playing golf,” he said. “Forget playing at the tour level — I didn’t know if I’d ever be playing again. But it’s incredible to have the opportunity again, to still come out here and play this golf course.”
That said, there isn’t a tournament Woods enters that he doesn’t think he’s going to win, but even he knows this one is likely well out of reach now.
“I have to shoot a special weekend,” he said, “and I need help. I’m not in control of my own destiny. I’m so far back.”