Let’s focus on the positives of a round to forget for Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship:
With a birdie on 16, he avoided having his first birdie-less round in a major championship since 2010.
His approach shot on 18 was the kind of vintage Tiger that keeps his fans coming back, a dart from 208 yards out that curled to within five feet of the cup.
He’ll have plenty of time to get takeout from his favorite San Francisco restaurant and get home in time to watch the leaders.
He did not break any bones. Hey, small victories, right?
Small victories are all Woods can shoot for at this point in the week, given that the big ones are now well out of reach.
Woods finished the day at +2 for the round, and +2 for the tournament, after birdieing two of the final three holes. He walked to the clubhouse 10 strokes behind leader Haotong Li, who was still more than an hour from teeing off for the day.
An unremarkable day turned ugly at the eighth hole, where Woods began a run of bogeying four of six holes that effectively bounced him from whatever faint hope he might have had of competing this year. His putter, so loyal on Thursday, abandoned him completely. He lost 0.33 strokes on the green, a sharp departure from his once-invulnerable days with the flat stick.
“I didn’t make anything early,” Woods said of his putting after the round. “I had some poor shots that put myself in bad angles. Just like [Friday], I didn’t make any putts to get that momentum going. I fell behind, and I had to fight back.”
Woods now turns his attention to the FedEx Cup playoffs and the U.S. Open. He’s boiled down his career to a major-focused sprint these days, and now he’s only got two left in the year. Woods only played one tournament after the quarantine-induced layoff, and the rust showed, even if Woods didn’t want to admit it afterward.
“I’ve had a number of years with long layoffs where I had to come back and do a lot of prep,” he said. “I know how to do it, I just have to do it.”
After the round, Woods acknowledged that his chance to catch the 18 majors of Jack Nicklaus is getting tougher with every major.
“The reality is that the golf courses are getting bigger. They are getting longer. The margin between making the cut and the lead is a lot smaller than it used to be,” he said. “It's getting tighter and it's getting harder to win events, but you look at the leaderboard of most major championships, you see the same guys. May not be always the same winners, but you see the same handful of guys are there. They understand how to win major championships, how to win the big events, how to plod their way along, how difficult it is to win these big events.”
Woods will wrap up his PGA Championship on Sunday in one of the earlier pairings.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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