Tiger Woods did not have to walk on water in Round 2 of the 2013 Honda Classic, but his Friday round was once again mired with mishaps and desperate par saves at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The world's second-ranked golfer finished his round with an even-par 70 and now sits in a tie for 63rd place after flirting with the cut line the entire day. Woods is nine behind leader Luke Guthrie, whose seven-under score of 63 put him in a commanding place heading into this weekend's action.
As for Woods, his Saturday and Sunday rounds will just be about fixing the myriad or problems with his game—specifically putting. After struggling to find the bottom of the cup on Thursday despite hitting 14 greens in regulation, Woods once again had the short stick fail him in the second round.
Starting his day red hot on the tee box, Woods was placing himself in consistent spaces to convert red numbers. The first hole saw Woods hit a beautiful iron off the tee and then give himself a birdie opportunity after hitting a solid approach to the green. However, he left the putt short and settled for par—a theme to his early-round struggles.
Despite having a chance for birdie on each of the first three holes, Woods two-putted each to stay even par.
That all changed (temporarily) on hole No. 4. Woods again knocked a fairway drive and great approach to the green, leaving himself a 15-footer for birdie. This time Woods knocked down the putt, giving him his first make of 15 or more feet of the Honda Classic.
Woods would continue his hot streak on the par-three fifth hole, hitting a beautiful approach close to the cup and converting an easy birdie. At that point, the PGA Tour's official Twitter feed noted that Woods had moved into the Top 30:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Tiger Woods birdied Nos. 4 and 5 to move to -2 (T30) at @TheHondaClassic. Scores: http://t.co/6P9wJotNFj #pgatour3/1/2013, 6:46:43 PM
Unfortunately, just when it seemed like Woods was finally getting his short stick under control, his driver betrayed him. He cranked a drive into the water on the sixth hole—far too deep for a plunge this time—and took a drop before bogeying the hole. He followed that up with another dreadful performance on the seventh, and just like that he was back to where he started.
If there is anything you can say about Woods' performance thus far in Palm Beach, it's that it's been consistently inconsistent. On perhaps his best shot of the day, the former world No. 1 got back into the red numbers with a 30-foot putt on the ninth to take the turn at one under.
From there, the excitement died down a bit. Three straight pars, the highlight of which was a nice up-and-down at No. 12, and Woods seemed to be settling into a routine.
And then a nightmarish performance the very next hole put his tournament in jeopardy. Gallivanting from bunker to bunker, Woods made bad drives, chips and pitches in a six-shot double-bogey that put him behind the cut line. Mike Graham of TCPalm.com noted that Woods was teetering on the edge Friday:
Mike Graham @TCPalmMGraham
Tiger Woods just doubled No. 13 and is +1 - cut line is even. #PGATOUR @TCPalm3/1/2013, 8:49:45 PM
At that point, the paradigm could have shifted into a Rory McIlroy-esque tailspin and no one would have batted an eye. Woods has been having problems all tournament long and was essentially out of contention. Few would have faulted him for packing things up and heading home.
Those speculating about an early exit had their fears put to rest immediately, though. Woods hit a fantastic approach to set up a birdie on the 15th, and parred out to end his day.
Overall, Woods' performance felt like a carbon copy of his first round. Frustratingly inconsistent with the putter, intermittently inaccurate off the tee, and nothing like the dominance we saw at Torrey Pines in January.
With Woods nine shots off the lead, he should probably move on from contending this weekend and focus on fixing the many deficient areas in his game.
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