DORAL, Fla. – So Tiger Woods finishes another round with another downhill 24-or-so-footer for birdie that arcs halfway around the green before dropping into the hole, and now it is our job to connect the dots.
Woods’ game-winning birdie putt on the 18th green at Bay Hill to win last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational was impossibly left to right, 24 feet and 2 inches long.
Friday’s closer was similarly difficult, but right to left, 23 feet and 6 inches long for a 66 and 11-under 133 total, one shot behind leader Geoff Ogilvy.
I’m not sure what you see there, but I’d say we’re looking at something close to a full circle, a shape golf fans should be finding quite familiar.
Golf is currently running around in circles, and only because we’re following the same man.
Mondays are for asking if and when and how and where Tiger Woods can be beaten. Sundays are for feeling silly for even asking.
In between, we just shake our heads a lot.
Earlier this week, Woods was asked if he expects to lose a tournament this year. “I’m sure it’ll happen eventually,” he said.
We all feel that way, right?
But since this streak actually became The Streak, when have we actually believed it?
Perhaps there were whispers following Woods’ pedestrian even-par 70 during the first round at Bay Hill, where he hadn’t finished better than tied for 20th the past four years.
But that’s nothing compared to Friday’s fact sheet, which leads with Ogilvy’s name atop the leaderboard. Ogilvy, who shot 67 Friday, is a a former U.S. Open champion, a proven winner under pressure.
Even more impressive is that Ogilvy hasn’t made a bogey on the Blue Monster over the first 36 holes, and he’s the only one who can say that.
So how many of you have the Aussie on Sunday?
“Obviously you’d have more hope, perhaps, if (Tiger wasn’t on the leaderboard),” Ogilvy said. “If it was just me and Adam say, and everybody else was five back, the field would probably have slightly more hope because they know Tiger is going to make birdies. I don’t think they would give up, but they would probably assume that they needed to have a really low weekend, I guess.
“I don’t know. Maybe they’re all just hoping for a good finish, I don’t know.”
The point to remember here is that no one knows. We all just watch. We all just wait.
The biggest news after the first round was that Woods needed three putts to finish out his round on Doral’s 18th hole, which was playing easier than years past.
“Yeah, I’m pissed,” Woods said after the round. “You three-putt, you’re not going to be real happy.”
(Hark! Human qualities!)
Starting on the back nine Friday, Woods kick-started his second round with three better shots at the par-5 12th, where he holed out from a greenside bunker for the first of two eagles on the day.
He played the next 13 holes in 2 under, then “hit a poor tee shot, a poor lay-up, hit a good wedge and a good putt” to make birdie at No. 8.
Woods’ tee shot on the par-3 9th looked perfect just seconds after impact, but landed longer than he wanted or perhaps expected, coming to rest on the top ridge of the green. He flinched and cringed as the ball landed.
Fortunately, playing partners Paul Casey and Louis Oosthuizen had sailed their shots to similar spots, further from the hole.
Casey’s putt missed long. Oosthuizen’s missed a bit longer, and was just nice enough to stay on the green, and not roll into the water.
“It was nice to have two teaches before I hit my putt,” Woods said. “The putt broke a lot, but also kind of wanted to go back right at the end. After seeing Louis hit his putt down there, it changed my read a little bit.”
As Woods was lining up his putt, Oosthuizen, a 25-year-old from South Africa, stood on the back of the green and said to his caddie, “He’s got a good chance of making it.” His caddie wasn’t buying it.
“And I said, well, I never bet against him,” said Oosthuizen.
Certainly, that caddie must now feel a bit silly.