If we've learned one thing from the new Tiger Woods, it's that you never really know what will happen from one day to the next. One moment he could be leading a tournament in December, and the next he could get beat in a playoff by the reigning U.S. Open champion. One minute he could be tearing up the front nine at Augusta National, and the next he is missing every important putt on the back.
So when Tiger opened with a 2-under 68 on Thursday, and we gushed about it, people warned that this is still a 72-hole event and we still have to see Tiger from afar before we can totally think he's back in some sort of tournament form. And boy were they right.
Friday's second round showed a rusty Tiger. When you take time away from the game, it's the feel that's the toughest to get back, and that proved to be the problem for Woods at Firestone, where he finished with a 1-over 71 and currently sits seven shots back of the leaders.
On Thursday, Tiger opened his round with nine straight pars, the consistency you'd want to see from someone that hasn't played tournament golf in three months, but Friday saw Tiger record just 10 pars all day, and in there was a roller coaster ride that has been vintage Woods the last 18 months.
The troubles started on the 14th hole, his fifth of the day, where Tiger missed a 2-footer for par and had to walk nearly off the green to regain his thoughts. Then came another dropped shot before two straight birdies and what looked like a third straight on the 18th before his putt hit the lip and was denied.
The round continued to go up and down on his inward nine, where Tiger carded two birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey from a greenside bunker.
Afterwards Tiger told The Golf Channel's Steve Sands that, "I putted awful today," and while that might have been somewhat true (29 putts compared to 27 on Thursday), it was the shots around the green that really did Tiger in. It seemed anytime he was off the green, his chips were as off as they could have been, and resulted in a number of dropped shots that stopped him from posting another round under par.
It's obviously a work in progress for Woods. He knows that just two days back into competitive golf isn't going to show his A game, but you could tell he was frustrated on the golf course unlike his attitude on Thursday. Tiger wants desperately to be the player he used to be, and you can tell when things like the short putt on No. 14 happen, he just doesn't really understand it. Maybe it's doubt, maybe it's the rust, or maybe it's just golf paying him back for all those breaks that happened at the start of his career.
Whatever it is, we still need to see four good rounds from Woods before we can get truly excited about his golf game, and if Friday showed us anything, it's that we still could be a ways away from that happening.
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