There are courses where Tiger Woods can shoot sub-70s rounds blindfolded with left-handed clubs. Augusta National fits into that category, as does Pebble Beach. TPC Sawgrass, site of this week's Players Championship, most assuredly does not.
Woods regards Sawgrass with about the same level of love he apparently has for the golf media or divorce lawyers. Yes, the 17th is the site of the famous "better than most" 60-foot putt in 2001. But that year marked the only time in 15 attempts that Woods has won at Sawgrass. He's only finished in the top 10 once since then, in 2009.
In fact, he hasn't posted consecutive sub-70 at Sawgrass since 2004 ... until Friday, that is, when he carded his second straight 67. And that's a signal that something might just be afoot with Woods this year. He hadn't broken 70 in an opening round until Thursday. He'd never scored as low as 67 until Friday.
Woods now sits a single stroke behind clubhouse leader Sergio Garcia, who is in at -11 and looking like a completely new player. Woods, for his part, played some vintage Tiger golf, with an eagle and five birdies in his round. The eagle, at No. 2, was the unquestioned highlight:
Should Woods manage to seize the lead back from Garcia — yes, we did actually just type that — and win on Sunday, it would mark yet another high-water point in his attempt to reclaim his former glory. The Players is the equivalent of a fifth major, as the PGA Tour will remind you, but more than that, it would represent a victory for Woods at a historically hostile course. His three wins this year have come at some of those fabled friendly courses: Bay Hill, Doral and Torrey Pines.
But Woods will have to earn this win. It's not just the course itself threatening him; the leaderboard features heavy hitters like Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson, in addition to Garcia. A victory at Sawgrass won't come easy for Woods, but it's doable, which is more than one can usually say for him at this track.
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