Tiger Woods hit a spectator in the head, dumped one in the hazard on the par-3 5th (his 14th of the day), struggled with his ballstriking, but he scrambled his way to a two-under 68 at PGA National to safely make weekend play. Phew. Tournament directors, sponsors, network executives and fans can stop panicking and rest easy.
Yes, “Tiger makes the cut” is now breaking news. Weird. (Maybe stranger that I’m not used to it by now?)
Give him credit for birdieing the last two holes (Nos. 8 and 9) to put up a decent number.
“I got it going, lost it, got it going, lost it and then got it going,” said Tiger in his post-round media scrum. “It was a little bit of a fight today. Probably the worst I’ve hit the ball in months.”
It was basically the opposite of his first round one-over 71, where he hit the ball quite well.
“I scored well,” he said. “But I figured something out at the very end, the last four holes. After the tee shot I hit on 6, unfortunately it took me that long to figure it out. But once I figured it out, I hit some good shots coming in.”
More good news: He putted better. He only needed 24 putts, but that also means he hit it poorly.
But no, worrying about missing the cut didn’t occur to him.
I told Joey on the last couple of holes, we go birdie, birdie, we’ll be within seven. And that’s really doable on this golf course. You know, the guys they don’t really go all that low, so if we post a low one tomorrow, we’ll be right back in it…
“I think somebody can shoot 65 or 64 today. It was calm in the morning. There’s no wind in the morning. The greens were running absolutely perfect, and you can play the first nine holes relatively benign conditions and get it going, I think some of the guys did today. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of those guys.”
Try 61. Rookie and former University of Georgia standout Brian Harman had a chance to shoot 59. He shot 29 on the front nine, birdied No. 11, made a bogey on No. 12, but added three birdies on Nos. 14-16 (yep, two of the three Bear Trap holes, but No. 15 was playing pretty easy today). The left-handed golfer almost birdied No. 17, too.
“I walked off 16 and I was like, man, if I birdie these last two holes, I’m going to shoot 59,” said Harman, who is at most 5’7″, 150-ish lbs. But then I looked at the pin on 17, and I’m like, I don’t know about jacking a 5-iron at this thing. I had a good shot there. And I hit a great drive on 18 and had a chance.”
His second shot into the par-5 18th came about a foot short of being absolutely perfect. Instead, it found the front bunker. He nearly holed the little shot from the sad, too, but it just curved along the left edge of the cup. No eagle and no 59, but Harman had a five-footer to post 60. He may have rushed it and pushed it a few feet past. He rolled in a three-footer for 61 and still bested the course record 64, which was shared by nine players, including Tom Gillis from earlier and Davis Love III from Thursday, by three shots.
“I was a little hot that I missed a 5-footer,” said Harman, smiling, a member of two Walker Cup teams. “But at the same time, I was really aggressive with that bunker shot. Thinking back, I probably shouldn’t have been, but whatever.
“I saw Davis had shot 64 yesterday, and just thought that was I’m out there yesterday and I’m like, ‘How did he shoot 64 out here, this place is so hard.’ I just got it rolling today. It’s just one of those days where everything went my way, everything bounced towards the hole and I made a lot of putts.”
Harman posted a three-over 73 on Thursday and needed a good round to make the cut. He definitely did that and more. He moved up from 103 spots to tied for fourth at six-under at the midway mark. He went out in the morning on Friday and shot his best ever round as far as he can remember.
Brendon Todd, who played in the group ahead of Harman, waited around to congratulate his former UGA teammate and friend. Asked to describe Harman, Todd said, “He’s a fiery competitor.”
Harman, who is small by PGA Tour standards, hits the ball hard and keeps up with the big boys distance-wise. So far this year he’s ranked 74th, averaging 291 yards.
“Everyone knocked on him in college, but he was never that short — for his height,” said Todd. “He drives it straight and got a great short game, but he’s always been a great ballstriker. He’s always hit the ball well enough to do well at this level. It’s just a matter of holing putts.”
Harman, who started the week as the second alternate, switched to a belly putter at the AT&T National. (Yep, another one of those!) He also switched back to his old driver after trying out a new one on Thursday. A little advice from a veteran never hurts, either.
“I exchanged some text messages with Lucas Glover last night,” said Harman, who likes to play at the pace he talks — fast. “He’s been a really good friend to me, and every time that I’ve needed any help, he’s always given me some advice. I asked him, I said, ‘Man, how do you get out there and take your time?’
“He goes, Well, try to walk a little slower.’ I did that today. So I haven’t gotten to my phone yet, but I’ll be sure to send him a thank you text.”
Journeyman Tom Gillis and Justin Rose (who is on my Fantasy Golf team but forgot to start today) are tied for the lead at eight-under. Rory McIlroy is one back and tied for third.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)