Tiger Woods didn’t have an ideal finish on Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, bogeying the last three at Bay Hill. He posted a two-under 70, a respectable score — which included two missed putts from inside three feet — for a 36-hole total of five-under, but he played better than he scored.
“I played way better than what I scored today,” said Woods, who trails leaders Bill Haas and Justin Rose heading into the weekend. “I missed a couple of short ones and I had a rough finish. The score doesn’t indicate how well I played today, so that’s a good positive.”
Tiger pushed a two-footer on No. 2 and a similar length putt on No. 12.
What happened on those finishing holes?
“They’ve never been easy,” said Woods. “So I’ve sort of made my share of mistakes on the last few holes the last couple of days, and I need to clean that up.”
When Tiger’s group was on the 16th hole, the sunny skies in Orlando had turned gray and pockets of rain started to pour in.
Friday’s pins were in different spots than they traditionally have been — which the players expected since they saw the tiny colored dots on Thursday. Tiger said he knew it’d be a tough day to score if the wind blew, but though it was breezy, it never really got crazy and it was much warmer than it was in the first round.
Rose, who played with Woods and Ernie Els, wasn’t spectacular but he was steady. He three-putted the 18th to bogey and drop back to nine-under to head into the halfway mark tied for the lead with Haas.
“He’s normally a fast finisher, and you can expect him to probably finish fast on the weekend,” said Rose, referring to Tiger. “But absolutely, he did a lot of hard work today. He actually played really well. I thought he was probably a couple of shots away from shooting 64 today at times. So yeah, I’m sure he was very disappointed because he actually played some great golf today.”
Rose let in an outside distraction on the 13th. He was lining up his 13-footer for birdie when he heard a fan yell, “It goes right! It goes right!”
Added Rose: “So now you’re thinking don’t push it and miss it right. It’s just one of those annoying moments where you’re having to then battle like someone planted a seed. And I hit a great putt that’s in the middle with four feet to go and it goes left of the hole. I guess I’d executed perfectly and I now think I’ve made it, and it goes left. I’ve just got my back up a tiny bit.”
Haas fired an impressive six-under 66 this morning.
“I feel good about shooting two good scores at this place,” said Haas after rounds of 69-66. “I didn’t know where the media tent was — I’ve never been here. Never had that much great success here, but I’ve always enjoyed coming.
“Yesterday I had hit going really well. Hit a nice 4-iron at 17, ended up being the wrong club because it flew in the back bunker, and hit two beautiful shots at 18 and three-putted from eight feet. Basically, I gave two away, so I think that my goal was to get those two back and go from there.”
Haas said he tweaked his neck last month the week of the Northern Trust Open, where he was defending champion. He wouldn’t go as far as call it an injury, though.
“It’s not bad,” said Bill. “I can honestly play. I can make a full turn. It’s just sometimes when you look to the left it kind of tightens in the back of the neck. It’s not that big of a deal.
“When you’re playing poorly, it hurts; when you’re playing well, it doesn’t hurt. It’s one of those. It’s not so bad.”
That’s the way it goes, right?
Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson cut his week short and shot a seven-over 79 to follow his first-round 73.
“I obviously played terrible and I deserved to shoot a score like this, but I felt like if I hit good shots, I could make birdies.”
Phil took five putts from about 40 feet on the fringe to get the ball in the hole on the par-4 13th. After he hit his first putt to five feet, he four-putted from there — it counted as a four-putt and not a five-putt because his first was not technically on the green.
“Fortunately, they didn’t count the first one on the fringe,” said Phil.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)