PARAMUS, N.J. – After 36 holes of The Barclays, Tiger Woods leads the field in fairways hit. No, that’s not some punch line. He’s found the fairway on 26 of 28 tee shots. No, that’s not a misprint.
Woods is finding his game. Now if he can only get his putting straightened out.
“I hit the ball just as good as I did yesterday,” Woods said. “But I didn’t putt well at all.”
That’s no exaggeration. He took 33 putts, a recipe for shooting over-par, and didn’t make a putt of more than 7 feet.
For the past several years, Woods has overcome an erratic driver with super-human scrambling abilities and confidence in his putting stroke that couldn’t be shaken.
That was then, this is now. It was at The Barclays a year ago that Woods missed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Heath Slocum.
That miss and a poor putting performance that cost him the 2009 PGA Championship to Y.E. Yang, and Woods suddenly looked vulnerable. It’s been all downhill from there.
This year Woods ranks a pedestrian 93rd in putts per round (29.30). Dig a little deeper into his putting stats and it only gets uglier. He ranks 152nd on Tour from 5-10 feet; 143rd from 10-15 feet; 189th from 15-20 feet; and believe it or not, even worse (193rd) from 20-25 feet. It makes one wonder: is the magic in his wand gone?
Forget about all this talk about Woods revamping his swing with instructor Sean Foley. Someone arrange an intervention with Dave Stockton.
Woods’ ballstriking is much improved over the first 36 holes of this tournament. He left his driver in the bag on Friday, relying on a combination of his 3-wood, hybrid and even a mid-iron on the 291-yard par-4, 5th hole to find the fairway with the accuracy once accustomed of Calvin Peete or “Radar” Mike Reid.
With two rounds to go only a fool would count Woods out. He stumbled with four bogeys on his second-nine to shoot 2-over 73. He’s lurking four strokes behind leader Jason Day in a tie for 14th place. Woods, who has rallied to win from far greater deficits before, didn’t flinch when asked his chances over the weekend.
“Post good numbers, you’ll move up the board,” Woods said. “The guys aren’t going to be tearing this place apart.”
But will there be a Tiger on the prowl on “moving day?” Depends if Woods can straighten out his putter in time.