SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods’ weekend was in serious jeopardy Friday morning when he made the turn at Torrey Pines’ South Course.
A costly double bogey at 18, his ninth hole of the day, sent him back to even par for the round and 2-under overall, right around the cut line at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Woods dug in for the final nine holes and did enough to make the cut. He finished with a 2-under 70 for the second consecutive round and sits 4-under, well off the lead but on to Round 3 for another go-round Saturday at the South Course.
“It could have been a lot lower than that,” Woods said. “I didn’t make anything today. I hit a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in, they’re just lipping out. Those putts go in and it’s a round of 5, 6-under par easily.”
Woods’ round got off to a solid start with a birdie at the par-5 10th. It was a grind from there.
A stellar approach shot at the par-4 13th went to waste after Woods’ short birdie try lipped out, and that was a sign of things to come. Another birdie try at the par-5 fifth appeared to do a 180-degree turn before lipping out, and his chip at the par-4 sixth hit the flagstick and bounced out.
Those three shots alone prevented Woods from the low round he needed by a matter of millimeters. But there were shots he’d like to have back throughout the bag. Asked if he’s been able to totally commit to every shot after two months off, Woods confirmed it’s still a work in progress.
“No, not yet,” Woods said. “I felt a little bit off at times here and there. I squeezed a couple off the tees just to get it in play and ripped a few here and there and hit a couple good bombs down there. Iron shots weren’t as close as I’d like to have them. Wasn’t quite as sharp as I’d like to be, but I hit them in there close enough where I should have made some of those putts. They lip in instead of lipping out, the ballgame changes a little bit.”
Woods hit driver almost exclusively off the tee in Round 2, just once deferring to an iron at the short, par-4 11th hole. He matched Thursday’s total by finding 7 of 14 fairways and hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation.
The double bogey at 18 was atoned for during a two-hole stretch early in his back nine, first with a lengthy birdie make at the par-3 third hole that put a big smile on his face. It was one of only four birdies made on that hole the entire day.
He followed that up with a chip-in birdie at the par-4 fourth hole and raised his wedge to acknowledge the crowd.
The galleries were noticeably larger and louder Friday and included Dave Matthews Band drummer Carter Beauford, who was enjoying some down time watching Woods before he’s due back on tour next March.
Woods’ 2019 tour is already underway. He can feel the benefits from all that time in the gym this offseason and said he feels strong, with no physical issues to start the season. And he’s confident the scores will soon improve if he keeps it up on the greens.
“I’m hitting good putts,” Woods said. “We were talking about it today, if I just continue hitting good putts, eventually they’ll go in in boatloads. Right now they’re just not going in. It’s one thing to be searching for it, but at least I’m hitting good putts.”
That was Woods’ mindset during similar putting stretches throughout his 2018 comeback season, which also began at Torrey Pines. That week got off to a rocky start and required a birdie on Woods’ final hole of the second round just to make the cut. He played better over the weekend and finished T-23.
Now he’s back in a similar position and hoping for an even better finish. He knows it’s going to take a lot, with a host of rounds in the mid-60s on another ideal scoring day Friday. Woods is currently T-48 and 11 shots back of leader Justin Rose going into Round 3, during which he’s hoping to keep making progress with the swing.
Seeing a few more putts drop wouldn’t hurt either.
“It’s going to have to be a very low and special weekend to have a chance,” Woods said. “The guys like (Jon Rahm) and (Justin Rose), a bunch of guys are going low on the South Course, which isn’t easy to do. They’re taking it to it, and hopefully I can be one of those guys that do it tomorrow.”