April 06, 2018

Woods Enters Into Weekend At 4-Over 148

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Saturday is moving day on the PGA Tour. After making the cut in a major championship for the first time in three years, Tiger Woods hopes to make a big one.

He’s where he wants to be this weekend – competing in the 82nd Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. But not 13 strokes off the lead.

“I’m going to have to shoot a special weekend and have help,” said 42-year-old Woods. “I’m not in control of my destiny. I need to go out there and shoot something in the mid-60s and hopefully do the same thing on Sunday.”

Competing at Augusta National for the first time since 2015 and only the second time in four years, Woods hasn’t been sharp the first two rounds. After two consecutive top five finishes coming into the tournament, many expected him to contend, himself included.

Woods still might, but things need to start clicking for the four-time Masters champion to factor in. Augusta is unforgiving, especially when you are a touch off. The more you force it, the bigger the risk.

“I hit my irons awful today,” he said Friday, after posting a 3-over-par 75 that left him at 4-over 148 and tied for 40th, well off the pace being set by Patrick Reed. “I didn’t control my distances, my shape, spin. I left myself in bad spots.”

A few errant drives proved costly and his putter has yet to heat up. Not that he was upset about the latter.

“I hit so many beautiful putts and nothing went in today,” said Woods.

Fortune and the leaderboard can change quickly at Augusta, and that’s what he is counting on the next two days. Woods has delivered many quality shots, but has seldom been rewarded.

The good news is that after failing to birdie any of the par-5s in Thursday’s opening round, he recorded two on Friday. He two-putted from 40 feet at 13 and two-putted from just off the back fringe at 15.

Those were his only birdies.

The short but devilish par-3 12th has been a problem. For the second straight day, his tee shot landed on the bank and rolled back into Rae’s Creek. To Woods’ credit, he salvaged another bogey.

A late starter with Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood, Woods split the first fairway with a 340-yard drive, then missed the green from 93 yards and made bogey. He was stuck between a 56 and 60-degree sand wedge.

“That wasn’t exactly a great start,” Woods said.

For the fifth straight time, Woods couldn’t capitalize on a par-5, settling for a par at the second hole. After pars at three and four, he found big trouble at the par-4 fifth.

Woods’ drive drifted right, but he had a good lie and open shot from 210 yards. He over-cooked his approach, the ball caroming over the green, down a slope and disappeared in the bushes.

After a lengthy search, the ball was located, but Woods was forced to take an unplayable lie. He did well to hack out into the left bunker, blasted to five feet, and escaped with a double-bogey.

Woods staved off further damage at the par-4 ninth by pouring in a 15-foot par-saving putt, his longest of the day, and made the turn in 3-over 39.

His best shot of the day came at the par-11th, where he blistered a low cut around the pine trees and the ball landed just of the green and rolled 20 feet past the pin. It was vintage Tiger.

Following the birdie at 15, Woods dropped a stroke at the par-3 16th, where his tee shot hung up on the back fringe, 35 feet from the hole. He ran his first putt eight feet past and couldn’t convert.

As he did Thursday, Woods finished strong with four quality shots at the par-4 17th and 18th holes and gave himself good birdie looks, narrowly missing both.

Woods hit 10 of 18 greens, seven of 14 fairways, and used 28 putts for the second consecutive round.

Although things got dicey after the bogey at 12, Woods hasn’t missed a cut at the Masters in 19 pro appearances.

“I didn’t know where I stood,” he said. “I was just trying to stay within 10 of the lead.”

Admittedly disappointed with Friday’s outcome, Woods reiterated how grateful he is to be back on the biggest stage in golf.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “I’m just so thankful to have this opportunity again. It’s something I have done virtually my whole life and I’ve missed it. Now, thankfully, I’m able to be a part of it again.”

Woods tees off Saturday at 10:40 a.m. ET with Ian Poulter. And despite the deficit, he’s still battling.

“Even though I’m a lot behind, you never know,” said Woods. “Especially If I get off to a quick start and get it rolling, get some momentum going, which I haven’t had so far.”