February 16, 2018

Tiger posts 5-over 76 in Genesis Open round 2

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Tiger Woods knows his PGA Tour comeback is a work in progress, and despite missing the cut Friday at Riviera Country Club in the Genesis Open, he continues to make positive strides.

For starters, Woods walked 63 holes – counting a nine-hole practice round and 18 hole pro-am – and finished pain-free for the second time this season. He tested his surgically-repaired back many times from challenging lies and stances and didn’t flinch.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Woods, after shooting a 5-over-par 76 and missing the cut by five strokes. “I wish I would have two more competitive rounds to head into next week, but that’s not the case. But I get a chance to do some work and I’ll go do some work.”

Woods has committed to play at the Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida, a short drive from his home. The last time he entered consecutive events was early last year at the Farmers Insurance Open and Dubai Desert Classic, but he withdrew at the latter because of a bad back. Prior to that, his last back-to-back tournaments came in 2015 at the PGA Championship and Wyndham Championship.

“It’s nice to be back competing again and to be able to go out there play and practice after each round,” he said. “I haven’t done that in years.”

Woods tied for 23rd last month in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, his first full-field PGA Tour start in a year.

“I think this whole week’s been very successful for us as a foundation, as a tournament,” said Woods. TGR Live runs the event and proceeds benefit his TGR Foundation and fund many of its programs for underserved youth.

After missing just his 17th cut in 316 pro starts, Woods knows what parts of his game need attention. He was out of sync from tee to green, hitting only 13 of 28 fairways and 16 of 36 greens, the latter his lowest total as a pro after two rounds.

Admittedly, the 42-year-old Woods is rusty and playing his way back into form after undergoing back fusion surgery last April, his fourth back procedure. No matter how many practice balls you hit or fun rounds you play with your buddies, nothing compares to the adrenaline rush of hitting shots under pressure in front of big crowds. Woods is re-learning how to feel comfortable and perform at the highest level.

“I didn’t play well today,” said Woods, who tallied three birdies and eight bogeys and posted a 36-hole score of 5-over 148, 12 shots behind leaders Patrick Cantlay, Graeme McDowell and Sam Saunders. “I knew I had to make a run on the back nine and I went the other way.”

Paired with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, his day got off to a  promising start, Woods pouring in a 19-foot birdie putt at the par-4 third and a 20-footer at the par-4 fifth to get to even par for the event. But he bogeyed six of the next eight holes.

Woods also struggled from tee to green on Thursday, but his short game bailed him out. Not so Friday, Woods three-putting three times and missing three putts from six feet or closer.

His three-putt from 40 feet at the par-5 11th was his first in 34 career rounds at Riviera. It negated a nice birdie at the famous 307-yard par-4 10th, where his drive reached the front fringe and he two-putted, taming the hole for the second straight day.

Woods also three-putted 13 and 16.

“The feeling of not feeling very good over putts finally caught up with me,” Woods said.