AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods didn’t make it easy, but he is onto the weekend at Augusta National.
Woods struggled in the second round of the Masters, posting a double bogey and three bogeys on his way to a 3-over 75. But that left him with a 4-over total and in a tie for 40th. With the cut being top 50 and ties, the cutline came in at 5 over, meaning Woods has advanced to the final 36 holes.
While Woods’ hopes to win the Masters technically remain alive in his first start here in three years, they are hanging by the thinnest of threads. The 42-year-old will likely begin the third round double-digit shots behind the lead, and he’ll have more than three-dozen names to pass to reach the top of the leaderboard.
Overall, Woods’ return to major championship golf has been a dud through 36 holes. Still, the four-time Masters champ isn’t finished with two days to go.
Nonetheless, Woods did plenty of crippling damage to his Masters bid in a slog of a second round.
It’s become clear over the last two days: Don’t trust his opening drive to tell you what comes next.
Woods hit a dead pull with a 3-wood into the trees at the par-4 first on Thursday, but he ended up making a par. A day later, he smashed a drive nearly 340 yards down the left side of the fairway – leaving him 93 yards for his second shot – and made bogey.
But that opening error was certainly a harbinger.
Following that opening drive, little went right. Woods missed his wedge approach left, with the ball landing on the green but rolling off down a slope to the left. Woods could only manage to chip to the fringe 20 feet short of the hole from there. When he missed that putt, he had his opening bogey.
He then failed to birdie the par-5 second and also came up short on that end at the par-4 third when his 7-footer for birdie slid right of the cup. Woods made a fantastic save from well over the par-3 fourth green, draining an 11-footer to complete the par.
But disaster would strike at the par-4 fifth.
Woods’ drive with a 3-wood went right, but the true trouble began with his second shot. From 210 yards, Woods airmailed the green by miles, even flying the back bunker and seeing his ball hit a downslope beyond and scurry into some bushes.
He would be forced to take a penalty for an unplayable lie and would then have to drop in the woods among those bushes as he could go no nearer the hole.
He punched out from there into the back bunker, blasted out to 5 feet and made the putt just to post a double bogey.
From that point on, Woods had to keep an eye on the cutline.
Now 3 over for the day and 4 over for the tournament, Woods proceeded to go on a par string. He would par his next six holes to keep himself at 4 over while the cutline was looming at 5 over.
The heat really turned up at the par-3 12th.
For the second straight day, Woods flailed his tee shot right and in the water – as his ball hit the front bank and rolled into the fronting hazard. Staring down double bogey and moving outside the cutline, Woods didn’t panic.
After he salvaged bogey there Thursday, he did so again Friday when he dropped and got his wedge to stop 3 feet away. He brushed in the putt for bogey. It was a great save, but Woods was now on the cutline.
Once again, though, Woods wasn’t fretting. He proceeded to find the par-5 13th in two and execute a simple two-putt from 40 feet for birdie – his first on a par 5 all week.
With some breathing room from the cutline, Woods was just over the green in two at the par-5 15th. He putted from there to 3 feet and brushed the birdie in to move back to 3 over.
It seemed he had clinched his weekend spot at that point, but Woods would bogey the par-3 16th after racing a 35-footer from the back fringe some 8 feet by and missing the comebacker.
But a pair of pars to close meant his week wouldn’t end early.
Woods simply was just sloppy most of the day. His course management was suspect and there were a number of times where his distance control was really off.
His tee-to-green came could use a lot of work. His short game and putting were fine, but they couldn’t save him on this day.
Woods makes it to the weekend, but his game still needs much improvement before being ready for major contention.