Woods Continues On At The Players
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – For the second consecutive week, Tiger Woods flirted with the cut but advanced to the weekend with gritty closing play.
Woods looked in serious of danger of missing the weekend for the first time in 17 career starts at the Players Championship at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Friday. Finishing on the front side, he played his last nine 1-under to post a 1-under 71 and finished at 1-under 143, surviving on the number.
“I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities I had to really shoot a good score,” Woods said.
He is tied for 68th, 14 shots behind leader Webb Simpson, who equaled the course record with a 63 and has a 36-hole total of 15-under 129.
Due to the large contingent of players making the cut, a secondary cut will be made following Saturday’s round. The low 70 and ties qualify for Sunday.
Woods could have made it less stressful on himself with better iron play and putting, but couldn’t create momentum, recording two birdies and one bogey on the 90-degree day. He never hit more than a 6-iron to any par-4 and failed to capitalize on many nice drives with short irons in his hands.
“I didn’t quite swing it right today,” said a frustrated Woods, a two-time Players winner. “I didn’t quite have the shape, the ball flight. I didn’t have much of what I wanted.”
Woods hit eight of 14 fairways, 12 of 18 greens and tallied 29 putts.
An early back nine starter with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, Woods opened with five consecutive pars. He finally broke through at the par-5 16th, where he pushed his drive into the pine straw, then maneuvered a low bullet through the trees just over the back of the green in a collection area, dangerously close to the water. Woods hit a wonderful lag putt through a bevy of moguls within five feet of the pin and finished it off for a birdie.
At the short but testy par-3 17th, where 24 players found the water on Thursday and 21 on Friday, Woods smoothed a beautiful wedge to 10 feet and just missed the putt.
Moving to the tough par-4 18th, Woods piped an iron down the fairway, but came up short-right with his approach, short siding himself. Playing from deep rough with the ball above his feet, Woods did well to gouge his third shot within decent par range but missed the putt and turned in even-par 36.
After a near-miss birdie at the par-5 second, Woods came right back with a birdie at the par-3 third, lofting his tee shot 15 feet below the flag and poured in the left-to-right putt.
Woods made a nifty save at par-4 fourth, where his approach shot caught the right-greenside bunker. Faced with an awkward stance forcing him to position his left foot outside the sand, Woods splashed his third shot four feet from the cup and sunk the putt.
He parred the last five holes, burning the edge of the cup with birdie putts twice.
“I just didn’t hit it close enough,” Woods said. “The course could have been had today. It’s so hot, it’s playing short and the greens are receptive.”
Woods will try to put it together on Saturday. He starts at 9 a.m. ET with Mackenzie Hughes.
“I’ve got to shoot something probably in the mid-60s, both days, to get myself up there with a chance,” he said