June 27, 2014

Tiger struggles down the stretch at Quicken Loans National

Playing in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Tiger Woods failed to survive the 36-hole cut in his first tournament since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve in March. Tiger posted scrores of 74 and 75 to card a 7-over 149, which left him four strokes above the cut line.

Tiger, who doubles as the tournament host, entered the event having made 26 consecutive cuts, the fourth-longest active streak on the PGA TOUR. It marked just his 10th missed cut as a professional in 299 career starts, and his first since The Greenbrier Classic in 2012.

“I’m encouraged by what happened this week,” Woods said. “I came back four weeks earlier than I thought. I had no setbacks. I got my feel for playing tournament golf. I made a ton of simple, little mistakes — misjudging things, missing the ball on the wrong sides and just didn’t get up-and-down on little, simple shots. Those are little things I can correct.”

Four players shared the halfway lead at 6-under 136. They include Marc Leishman, who sunk his fourth shot from 127 yards on the par-5 ninth to shoot 66, Patrick Reed (68), a two-time winner this year, Ricky Barnes (69) and Oliver Goss of Australia (66). Only two shots separate the top-10 players.

On Friday, Woods was a late starter with Jason Day and Jordan Spieth. He opened with four straight pars but double-bogeyed the par-4 fifth — where he plugged his second shot in a bunker and needed two shots to escape. Tiger followed with pars at the sixth and seventh holes, then bogeyed the par-4 eighth and birdied the ninth to make the turn in 2-over 38.

Woods birdied the par-3 10th to begin the back nine. The two-time Quicken Loans National champion then stumbled with four consecutive bogeys, most the result of errant tee shots. After a par at No. 15, Tiger birdied the par-5 16th, but missed a four-foot birdie try at the par-4 17th. Tiger closed with a par at the par-4 18th.

In two rounds, Woods hit 16 of 28 fairways and 20 of 36 greens. After using 31 putts Thursday, he had 30 on Friday.

Tiger, who hadn’t played competitively since March 9, took away many positives from his performance, especially the condition of his back.

“The thing I was worried the most about was hitting driver full-out,” he said. “The fact that I was able to hit it that hard was very encouraging. I was able to shape it both ways.”