January 27, 2018

Tiger Birdies Last Hole, Makes Cut at Farmers

LA JOLLA, Calif. – For the first time since the 2015 Wyndham Championship, Tiger Woods will play on the weekend during a PGA Tour event.

Of course, this is only his second full-field tournament since then, but Woods is happy about the accomplishment. While his game is rusty after a year away from the Tour because of a bad back, Woods proved he still has the heart and talent to dig deep when it matters.

Following an opening round even-par 72 on Thursday on the South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course, Woods figured he needed to post a sub-par score Friday on the North Course to play on Saturday and Sunday.

Starting on the back nine with Charley Hoffman and Patrick Reed, Woods struggled to find the fairway and dug a deep hole by making double-bogey at the par-4 13th, hooking his drive into the hazard. In full scramble mode, he steadied with five consecutive pars to turn in 2-over 38, but knew he needed birdies on the back nine to stick around.

Woods responded with four, draining a 40-footer from the fringe at the par-4 first, birdied Nos. 5 and 7 then reached the par-5 ninth in two and two-putted for a birdie from 90 feet to punch his ticket.

For a man who has won 79 times on the PGA Tour, including 14 majors, it may not sound like much. But when you’ve been away from the game as long as Woods, it was noteworthy.

“It was a grind,” said Woods, who fired a 1-under 71 and is tied for 65th at 1-under 143, 10 strokes behind leader Ryan Palmer. “I fought hard and it felt good.”

Woods complicated matters by finding only 3 of 14 fairways and hit eight of 18 greens. His short game saved him. He got up and down on six of his last seven chances and used only 23 putts during the round.

“It’s still not quite right,” Woods said of his swing. “I need to fix that. I just need to keep working.”

Playing on the weekend should help. While Woods has won eight times as a professional at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, he’s essentially in unchartered waters after undergoing his fourth back surgery last April. Woods is still discovering what he can and can’t do “I need more time under the fire,” he said.

On the plus side, Woods came through in the clutch with birdies on three of his last five holes. Afterward, he thanked the large and appreciative crowd for their support.

“They were awesome,” said Woods. “They were enthusiastic and respectful of my playing partners. They were just great.”

Woods is still adjusting the firmness of the greens.

“We can hear the ball land from the fairway,” he said.

Asked what he hoped to accomplish in the final rounds, Woods said get more comfortable with his swing and give himself more looks at birdie. Both rounds will be played on the South Course.

“I just need to keep building,” said Woods. “I need to get used to what my feels are, and I haven’t felt these things in a while. It’s one thing to do it at home and another to do it out here.”

On Saturday, he tees off at 10:10 a.m.at No. 10 with Sung Kang and Brandt Snedeker.