Having to 'grind it out,' Tiger in contention behind 73

DORAL, Fla. – In a wild and windy Day 2 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Tiger Woods’ performance had remarkable moments both good and bad.

He made a 92-foot putt and hit the hole with a 7-iron shot from 231 yards out. But he also sent three balls into water during that second-round 73, at least two on shots that looked excellent in the air.

Perhaps more significant, Woods nodded yes when asked if his back, which caused his withdrawal Sunday at the Honda Classic, affected his swing. He did not noticeably grimace while playing, but he said he was sore after playing 26 holes Friday.

“Long day, long day,” Woods said after posting 5-over 149 for the first two rounds, six shots off the lead in a tie for 25th. “So it’ll be nice to get some treatment tonight and be ready for tomorrow.”

On a day when wind gusted to 36 mph and some players’ tempers blew hot over a difficult Trump National Doral setup, Woods seemed to find a groove on his second nine after making four bogeys on six holes.

“Just grind it out,” he said of his approach.

That worked. Through 12 holes of his second round, Woods was 7 over overall and 11 shots behind the temporary lead. Two birdies over his last six holes and the retreat of players high on the board trimmed his deficit six shots.

He seemed out of it. But, after tying for the eighth-best score of Round 2, now he’s clearly in contention. And he knows it.

“You’ve just got to hang around,” Woods said. “You just never know. We’ve all got a shot at it now. No one is going anywhere.”

Many, however, were going to watery graves on a day Graeme McDowell called the most difficult he has faced in the United States, a blustery day he likened to the Friday at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews when play was halted because of high wind.

More than 100 balls found water here in the second round alone. Informed of that statistic, Woods said, “I contributed to that number.”

Yes he did. Covering an 18-hole stretch that began with the end of his Round 1 in the morning, Woods rinsed four shots. The final two came on bad breaks. On his last nine, he hit a beautiful approach that covered the flag on No. 3, but his ball landed on the front of the green and rolled back down a bank into water.

He answered that, though, by rolling in the 92-footer at the par-3 fourth and making birdie at the next from 5 feet. Woods seemed to have put himself in position for another birdie at the par-5 eighth, but his 3-wood tee shot bounced left in the fairway and rolled into water. Woods called that a “perfect shot ... right down the middle of the fairway.”

His next shot was more perfect. It was then that he lipped out the 7-iron from 231 en route to par.

As Woods played the seventh hole, course owner Donald Trump drove up in a cart and told a couple of reporters, “They haven’t even set (the course) up hard.”

Trump got vocal dissent from players, though. Henrik Stenson told two reporters during the last nine that “not too many players are having fun.” Webb Simpson, tied for 65th at 80-78, was one of them. The 2012 U.S. Open champion called the setup “horrendous” because of tucked pins in such strong current and said he felt like he was out on the course for “a million years.”

Woods, who seems to be taking more penalty strokes than he used to, wasn’t as harsh.

“Some of the pin locations were a little bit on the edgy side because of the wind directions,” Woods said. “I think some of the guys will be probably pretty upset about some of the pins. If they were in better spots, I think they would have been fine.”

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