By Sam Bush
Tiger Woods was on his last hole in the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he’s won a record seven times.
But this time around, in his first tournament on the PGA Tour in a year and just his second in 2½ years, the former world No. 1 was on the tail end of a long grind under sunshine just to make the cut.
So there he was on the ninth hole of Torrey Pines’ North Course, a par 5 of 556 yards that he had reached in two, facing an eagle putt of 30 yards. Woods had to at least get down in two putts to make the cut on the number and give himself two more rounds of competition in his latest comeback from back surgery.
He almost made the putt.
The ball tracked the hole from the start and wound up just 10 inches short, producing one of the most important tap-in he’s had in years. After starting sluggishly on the 10th hole, Woods birdied three of his final five holes to make the cut.
“It’s nice to get out there and compete and play,” said Woods, who had spinal fusion surgery last April and said he’s as healthy as he’s been in years. “I’m still getting used to my feels, but that just takes more time under the fire. I still need more rounds under my belt. To learn how far certain shots are going, what my swing feels are going to be for certain shots, certain trajectories, those are all things a lot of these guys have already built in because they’ve been playing. I’m just starting out.”
Woods signed for a 1-under-71 to move to 1 under through 36 holes. He will start today’s third round — the tournament moves to the South Course for the final two days — 10 shots behind of the pace-setting lead of Ryan Palmer.
But the world’s 647th-ranked player will at least get to tee it up again here at this seaside resort. With the clutch birdie at the last, Woods made the cut in this event for the first time since 2013, when he captured the last of his seven Farmers titles. And it was the first cut he’s made on the PGA Tour since the Wyndham Championships in August 2015.
“This is a different body and that’s why I’m excited to play the weekend, to continue getting used to my feels because they are different,” Woods said. “I can play golf at home and hit certain shots, but to come out here in competition and my adrenaline goes up a little bit, it’s different.
“ … There are many things that I’m going to have to learn and I need more time under the fire of competition.”