Tiger Woods will make the weekend in the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener, but Friday at The Northern Trust brought him plenty of frustration.
A balky putter ruined a strong ball-striking day from Woods, who found his first 14 greens in regulation on the round, as he could only muster an even-par 71 – closing the round with a three-putt bogey from inside 30 feet.
That drop to even par overall could’ve been a disaster. The cut was projected at even par when he finished but had a chance to move to 1 under by day’s end at Ridgewood Country Club. It did end up staying at even par, which allowed Woods to make the cut on the number.
Even with Woods reaching Saturday, this was a round wasted.
It was a Friday full of missed opportunities for Woods. The 42-year-old hit a pair of early tee shots into the rough with fairway woods, but otherwise he was impressive ball-striking wise.
The driver was clicking as he found eight of 10 fairways with the big stick and Woods used that to help him find 16 greens in regulation on the day. But there were times his approaches weren’t that close to the cup. The bigger issue: his putter failed him as he kept letting good birdie opportunities go by.
Woods found the green in two at the par-5 third and hit a nice lag from 100 feet to inside 5 feet. But the remainder for birdie slid by on the left, leaving Woods with a three-putt par.
He missed a 13-footer for birdie at the fifth but seemed to be turning things in the right direction when he rolled in a 7-footer at the seventh for his first birdie of the day to move to 1 under.
But Woods then missed low on 10- and 13-foot birdie putts at Nos. 8 and 10. A 16-footer at the 12th for birdie also failed to drop.
Another birdie would arrive at the par-5 13th after he stopped a wedge 6 feet from the cup and drained the putt to move to 2 under.
The putter issues soon returned, though. Woods’ 8-foot birdie putt at the 14th was always left and never had a chance of hitting the cup. The same was the case on his 5-footer for par at the par-3 15th.
That bogey came on his first missed green of the day and dropped Woods to 1 under.
A potential missed weekend came back into focus after Woods parred the 16th and the cutline moved to 1 under. That put Woods right on the cutline with two holes to play. He then left himself a 4-footer for par at the par-5 17th and needed to make it to stay inside the cutline. The putt just curled in on the right side.
The cut then fell back to even par as he played the 18th and Woods seemed in line to par that final hole and keep himself safe at 1 under.
But he left his 28-footer for birdie almost 4 feet short, and his remaining putt started left of the hole and stayed there.
Fortunately for Woods, that bogey didn’t cost him the weekend.
Still, he will need to see something change to produce anything other than a mediocre finish this week.