Tiger Woods well off British Open lead, but we're saying there's a chance ...

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Tiger Woods well off British Open lead, but we're saying there's a chance ...

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods well off British Open lead, but we're saying there's a chance ...

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ chances to win the British Open are not good.

He shot even par 71 Friday for the second consecutive round and was seven shots behind leader Kevin Kisner in the late afternoon.

On the bright side, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back to start the final round in 1999 at Carnoustie and one only has to go back six years to find an example of a 42-year-old overcoming a huge deficit after 36 holes to take home the Claret Jug.

Ernie Els was seven shots off the 36-hole lead when he won the 2012 British Open. Going further back, David Duval trailed Brandt Snedeker by seven en route to victory at the 2001 British Open. It’s only happened twice before and both 36-hole comebacks occurred at Royal Lytham, but there is still a chance.

Even if those odds are about as good as a guy like Lloyd Christmas ending up with a girl like Mary Swanson.

“I played a little bit better (Thursday). Today wasn’t quite as good,” said Woods, who once again played with KT tape popping out of the back of his Nike sweater vest due to a lingering neck issue. “Right now I’m six back and by the day’s end I think I’ll be more than that. It will be a pretty packed leaderboard and I’m certainly right there in it.”

For the first time this year, Woods is at least worth a mention entering Round 3 at a major. That’s the positive takeaway from a proper rain-soaked morning at Carnoustie. Woods was 13 shots behind Patrick Reed when he barely managed to make the cut at the Masters and he left Shinnecock Hills early after an uninspiring pair of rounds in the U.S. Open.

A conservative approach off the tee has a lot to do with it and provided more chances from the fairway, which is what it’s all about for Woods these days. He hit driver four times compared to just once in Round 1 due to the dampened fairways and took advantage with a pair of birdies, one par and one bogey on said driver holes.

Woods hit 11 of 15 fairways in regulation and 13 of 18 greens and bounced back after consecutive bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3. He teetered on the brink of serious contention and falling back toward the cut line all afternoon with a gritty par save here, a blown birdie chance there, etc.

The trouble started with his first driver of the day at the par-4 second hole. He lost it to the right and ended up in some pretty nasty rough off the fairway.

It is true that European fans have been ridiculously respectful and don’t crack themselves up by shouting tired catchphrases that were never funny to begin with, but they’ve proved equally clueless as their American counterparts when it comes to getting out of the way of intended ball flight.

Woods had to direct traffic when sizing up his approach shot from the rough at two and it got a little chaotic, with tons of umbrella-holding spectators obstructing his line.

“Gotta back it up guys, he already asked you once. … No, more than that!” caddie Joe LaCava said.

Marshals got involved and finally the supposedly-civilized masses moved back a touch, but Woods’ ball took a squirrely exit from the rough and went into a group of fans about 30 yards down the ropes line before coming to rest in an isolated area of rough.

That led to the first of four bogeys on the day and Woods appeared to have zero juice after an ugly three-putt birdie at three. A second consecutive missed cut at a major was definitely in play, but Woods refused to give in and played the final 15 holes in 2 under, bouncing back with birdies at four and five to give the round a bit of character.

He played the back nine in 1 under, three shots better than Thursday, and his only bogey was at the very bogey-able par-3 16th after his tee shot went short and his chip shot went long.

The most impressive shot of the day might have been at the par-3 13th, where Woods drained a very lengthy putt to save par and keep precious momentum entering the par-4 15th. He had a good eagle look thanks to a solid 3-iron followed by a near-perfect 5 iron but couldn’t convert. The round ended with another missed opportunity at the brutal 18th after sticking a close iron shot that, come to think of it, was probably his actual best shot of the day.

Then, something really unusual happened. His post-round media session ended organically after just 3 minutes and 59 seconds. Getting a question in at those things usually takes a bit of skill and good timing and they almost always end when a member of Woods’ team says so.

There were nine questions and a few lengthy pauses and then it was done, and Woods left the lectern to go get a lift in at the gym. He wasn’t planning on practicing.

Maybe the reason he wasn’t practicing and wasn’t assaulted with rapid-fire questions is because his overall game has been really solid so far at Carnoustie. Nothing spectacular. Just solid.

It will take a spectacular round Saturday to get into serious contention come Sunday, but a consistence performance over four-rounds would represent progress considering Woods’ two previous major outings this year have been among his worst starts of the season.

This week, at least, he gave everyone a reason to keep saying there’s a chance.

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