In the previous two events where Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were both in the field (Abu Dhabi Championship and WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship), the worlds No. 1 and 2, respectively, played follow-the-leader, taking early exits.
With McIlroy walking off the course unceremoniously after dunking it in the water on the 18th (his 9th hole of the day) in the morning, all eyes were on Woods, who flirted with the cutline on Friday at the Honda Classic. It was touch-and-go for a while, especially when Tiger double-bogeyed the 13th to fall outside of the cut, but he bounced back with a birdie on the next hole and then parred out to survive and see the weekend.
Kind of. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a buzz kill when Tiger tees off at 8:15 on Saturday and finishes by noon. It’s like, either be atop the leaderboard or near it, or miss the cut. In other words, personally, I’d prefer if Tiger played really well, but if he isn’t, then it’d be nice if he were awful instead of mediocre. Ho-hum.
That said, good on Tiger for grinding and scrambling his way around PGA National to make a run this weekend. Perhaps it’ll turn out similar to last year when Woods shot a final-round 62, except this time he won’t have to worry about chasing down defending champion McIlroy.
Woods struggled with his ballstriking, but made up for it on the greens. In other words, the exact opposite of the previous round.
“I didn’t hit the ball very good today,” said Tiger after shooting back-t0-back even-par 70s (T65). “I hit it really good yesterday and got nothing out of it. Today I didn’t hit it very good and got a lot out of it.”
Tiger had two excellent up-and-downs on the final two holes to save him from another weekend off.
“(The shot on) 17 wasn’t anywhere near as hard as 18,” said Tiger, referring to the bunker shot on 17 and the flop from the left rough. “17, I actually had a real good lie, and I had enough room to get the ball up and keep it from going in the water. The water wasn’t in play.
“18 was a different story. 18, the water was in play. I had no grass, it was muddy, and it was a downhill lie. So I tried to pull it off, and if I pulled it off, it’s going to be where it was and if I didn’t, it was going to be dumped in the front bunker and I could get up-and-down from there, easy bunker shot. I just wanted to make sure I took the water out of play on that little pitch shot and I did and it happened to come off.”
Woods is paired with legendary prankster David Lynn, the Englishman who finished runner-up to McIlroy at the PGA Championship last summer. So that should actually be fun. Too bad it’s at 8:15am…
Naturally, Tiger was asked about Rory’s abrupt departure.
“It’s tough,” said Tiger, when asked about how difficult it is to withdraw when bothered during a round. “I’ve done it a couple times just because I was injured. I just couldn’t go. I hurt my wrist one time at the U.S. Open as an amateur. Last year I pulled out at Doral, my Achilles was at the point where I could injure it again like I did the previous year. So decided not to do it. It all worked out.”
And I thought this was a good quote from Tiger, referring to having a “welcome to my world”– where every tiny thing is analyzed to death — conversation with Rory: “I’ve been through it for a long time. But also this is a slightly different era, as well. It’s even faster than what it was when I came out. Things are instantaneous around the world. We were still in fax machines, things were a little bit slower.
“But still, you’ve just got to be more just got to think about it a little bit more before you say something or do something. It can get out of hand, especially when you get into social media and start Tweeting and all those different things that can go wrong jokingly saying something doesn’t always come off as saying that, even though the intent was different. It could be perceived as something else.”
Meanwhile, first-round leader Camilo Villegas followed up his six-under 64 with a seven-over 77 to miss the cut. Yikes! 23-year-old rookie Luke Guthrie fired an impressive seven-under 63 early on Friday to take the 36-hole lead.
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)