January 27, 2017

Tiger misses cut in return to PGA TOUR at Farmers

Tiger Woods took his first steps on the comeback trail Thursday and Friday in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in cool and breezy La Jolla, California.

Absent from the PGA TOUR for 17 months, Tiger followed up his opening round 4-over 76 on the South Course with an even 72 on the North Course on Friday to missed the cut at 4-over 148.

It was the first time in 14 previous starts at Torrey, but times are different for the 41-year-old Woods, who is trying to play his way back into competitive form after two back surgeries.

“It’s frustrating not to be able to have a chance to win this tournament,” he said. “Overall, today was a lot better than yesterday.”

Tiger improved his ball striking from the first round. After finding only four fairways and nine of 18 greens Thursday, he hit 10 fairways and 11 greens Friday. Woods used 29 putts, one less than his opening round.

“It hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in,” he said.

His short game looked sharp, getting up and down five of seven times.

Most importantly, his body held up despite the cool and damp conditions and rough and long rounds. Woods and his team prepared for that, but he still had to cope and play.

“It’s something we had been planning for,” Tiger said. “It’s a long process in the morning trying to get warmed up and ready.”

An early back-nine starter on the newly renovated North Course with Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, Woods got off to a fast start on the 536-yard, par-5 10th hole. After knocking his drive into the right rough, he hit his second shot short of the green, pitched to within 12 feet of the hole and buried the birdie putt.

Tiger gave it back at the 220-yard, par-3 12th, where his tee shot flew into the back bunker and he was unable to save par. Woods followed with seven consecutive pars and made the turn in even 36.

After pars at Nos. 1 and 2, he bogeyed the long par-3 on No. 3, coming close a six-foot par putt. Tiger added his second birdie at the 525-yard, par-5 No. 5, nearly holing a long eagle chip from behind the green.

Woods closed with four straight pars.

“I felt like I made some nice strides,” he said.

Tiger said his goal remains the same.

“I’m trying to ready for the first full week in April,” said Woods, referring to the Masters. “That’s where I want to have everything to come together.”

Not that it wasn’t disappointing to leave early this week. Eight of Tiger’s 79 PGA TOUR wins have come at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open.

“I just wish I could have played the weekend because I love this golf course,” he said with a smile.

Next up for Tiger is the 28th Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Feb. 2-5, at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. He is a two-time winner of the event.