PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Walking out of the drop zone on the par-3 sixth Friday, Tiger Woods knew he was hovering near the cut line. During the last three holes, he had smashed a long iron to 40 feet but three-jacked for par; clocked a spectator in the temple with his tee shot but recovered to make birdie; and pulled his tee shot into the water, leading to a double bogey and a few unprintable words.
Tiger would say afterward that it was a grind Friday at the Honda Classic, and that much was certain. Clearly, it wasn’t as clean as his 1-over 71 in the opening round, as paradoxical as that may seem. He still struggled with the speed of the greens, the grain, the subtle breaks. But the big difference, the important difference, was that in Round 2 he scored better.
Woods made back-to-back birdies to finish his round, shooting a 2-under 68 to at least give himself a chance heading into the weekend. He is seven shots behind clubhouse leader Tom Gillis, though Woods said, on this course, making up that deficit is “doable.”
“It was a little bit of a fight today,” said Woods, who is at 1-under 139, currently in a tie for 31st. “Probably the worst I’ve hit the ball in months.”
After that rinsed tee shot on 6, Woods told caddie Joe LaCava that he “figured it out.” Too bad, he added, that it took 14 holes to do so. Too bad, too, that the Champion Course at PGA National was vulnerable on Friday, particularly for the morning starters, like Woods. It was warm. The greens were perfect. The wind was down.
Brian Harman smashed the course record by three shots and shot 61. Gillis, the leader, shot 64. Woods envisioned that kind of low number after striking it so well on Thursday (10 fairways, 15 greens). After that round, he spent about 35 minutes on the practice putting green, working with swing coach Sean Foley, trying to correct his posture. Habits from his full swing had crept into his putting stance.
His goal Friday was to get every putt to the hole. Though he didn’t succeed, Tiger said he’s now hitting solid putts again. That’s a start.
On No. 8, his 17th hole of the day, he sank a slippery 7-footer for birdie. And after getting a good read from fellow playing competitor Lee Westwood on 9, Tiger rolled in a 11-footer to close his round with a flourish.
If nothing else, he left a good impression on his 3-year-old son, Charlie, who was watching him play at a tournament for the first time.
“I made some bad swings today,” Woods said, “but I somehow managed to score.”
— Ryan Lavner
• • •
Tiger’s 18th hole: No. 9, Par 4, 421 yards
Tiger takes iron off the tee and finds the right side of the fairway. He birdied No. 9 on Thursday.
Tiger takes dead aim at the flag with his approach and has 11 feet for birdie.
Tiger drains another birdie putt to card a 2-under 68 and move to 1 under for the tournament, currently T-36.
Tiger on the day: 2 under (thru 18 holes; 1 under for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Tom Gillis is in the clubhouse at 8 under after round of 6-under 64 on Friday. He is two shots ahead of Davis Love III and four shots of a group at T-3.
• • •
Tiger’s 17th hole: No. 8, Par 4, 427 yards
Tiger pulls 3-wood and finds the right side of the fairway after flirting with the rough.
His second shot is a beauty, hitting a low draw into the wind and sticks it to about seven feet, where he’ll have a downhill putt for birdie.
He drains it move back into red numbers for the day.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 17 holes; Even for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s 16th hole: No. 7, Par 3, 226 yards
He is all over the flag at the par-3 7th hole and will have a look at birdie from about 19 feet under the hole at the final par 3 of the day.
He barely misses the birdie putt and taps in for par. Picking up a birdie over his final two holes would pretty much assure Tiger will be playing on the weekend.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 16 holes; 1 over for the tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s 15th hole: No. 6, Par 4, 479 yards
Uh-oh. Tiger seems a bit out of sorts now, blowing it way right with driver at No. 6. He made bogey here yesterday too.
From well right of the fairway, Tiger lands his approach near the cup, but it runs off the back and will need to get up-and-down for par.
Tiger plays a poor chip and leaves himself about five feet for par. Meanwhile, a fan standing by the ropes and the 6th green just fainted and is knocked out cold.
Tiger manages to save an improbable par from where he was off the tee. This could help him make the cut.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 15 holes; 1 over for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Charl Schwartzel is having a good round (6 under for the day thru 13 holes), moving to 5 under for the tournament.
• • •
Tiger’s 14th hole: No. 5, Par 3, 217 yards
A tough tee shot here, with the wind blowing against the tee box. Tiger hits a bad tee shot that finds the water on the left and that is followed by a stream of expletives from Woods. He gets it on the green with his third and has about 18 feet for bogey.
And the bogey putt slides by and he picks up a double. Tiger needs to keep it steady coming in or he could fall outside the cut line, which is currently 1 over.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 14 holes; 1 over for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s 13th hole: No. 4, Par 4, 376 yards
Tiger hits his first poor tee shot of the day, using iron and he blocks it out to the right at the short par 4.
Tiger’s tee ball actually flew into the gallery and hitting someone in the head. The fan seems to be OK, as Tiger signs a glove for him and gives him a handshake.
Now Tiger faces a tough lie and little green to work with, but somehow gets it to the green and right past the hole and is looking at less than seven feet for birdie.
Tiger hammers this birdie putt home, with a little bit of help from caddie Joe LaCava.
Tiger on the day: 2 under (thru 13 holes; 1 under for the tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s 12th hole: No. 3, Par 5, 538 yards
Tiger pulls driver despite yesterday’s troubles off the tee at No. 3. And he smashes it down the middle of the fairway and should be able to go after the green in two.
Tiger only needs an iron for his second shot and gives it a lash, pushing it to the back of the green and setting up a 40-foot eagle putt.
Tiger leaves his birdie attempt woefully short and leaves himself six feet for birdie. And he misses that one too, settling for a disappointing par. Tiger is even par on the par 5s for the two days.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 12 holes; Even for tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Tom Gillis has taken the lead at 7 under, as he is 5 under thru 14 holes on Friday.
• • •
Tiger’s 11th hole: No. 2, Par 4, 464 yards
Tiger pulls iron again off the tee and tries to go down the left side to cut off some of the distance, but finds the left rough.
With 195 yards left to the flag, Tiger muscles it out of the rough and comes up just short of the green and is facing another up-and-down situation.
Tiger plays a nice shot from just off the green and taps in for par.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 11 holes; Even for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s 10th hole: No. 1, Par 4, 365 yards
With the wind picking up – around 15 mph currently – Tiger takes iron off the tee and finds the first cut of rough on the right side, but should be fine for his second shot.
With 150 yards left to the hole, Tiger takes plenty of rehearsal swings, trying to hit a cut. And he pulls it off too, landing on top of the ridge on the green and about 13 feet away for birdie.
But Tiger can’t convert, as the ball rolled over the right edge as it lost speed and he picks up another par.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 10 holes; Even for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s ninth hole: No. 18, Par 5, 556 yards
Tiger pulls driver for only the second time today and pushes his tee ball slightly, but should be able to go after the green in two.
But his ball lands in a horrid lie and his only option is to lay up, so he one-hand chops it out of the long stuff and will have about 100 yards left for his third shot at the par 5.
Tiger flights his third shot nicely and spins it back to inside eight feet for a good chance at birdie.
But he misreads the birdie putt and has to settle for a par. He makes the turn at 1-under 34.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 9 holes; Even for tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Harris English has moved into a tie for the lead at 6 under, while Tom Gillis is 3 under on his round to move to 5 under. Jeff Overton has the round of the day going, as he is 5 under thru 10 holes, and 4 under for the tournament. Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler is 3 over thru 10 holes and is now a 2 over for the tournament. The projected cut line is 1 over right now.
• • •
Tiger’s eighth hole: No. 17, Par 3, 190 yards
A dangerous tee shot here, with the pin only a few paces from the water on the right. Tiger draws away from the flag and goes long. He immediately puts his hands on his knees in disbelief.
While only about a foot off the green, Tiger still has to chop it out and hope to trickle it close. He does so nicely and leaves himself about four feet for par.
He makes it to save par again (his second up-and-down in three holes) and will move to the only par 5 on the back nine. Tiger plays the Bear Trap 1 under.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 8 holes; Even for the tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Erik Compton and Harris English have both moved to 5 under, one shot behind Davis Love III, who doesn’t tee off until 1 p.m. EST.
• • •
Tiger’s seventh hole: No. 16, Par 4, 434 yards
Tiger plays a “stinger” iron off the tee and is back in the fairway, this time on the right side. He’s only missed one fairway thus far, but that one cost him.
With a long second shot into the par 4, Tiger barely carries the bunker in front of the green, but it rolls down and should have inside 25 feet for birdie.
Tiger nails the birdie putt – and he walked it in the last few feet – to move back into red numbers on the day. It is only the second putt outside of 10 feet he has made this week.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 7 holes; Even for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s sixth hole: No. 15, Par 3, 179 yards
First leg of the Bear Trap – Tiger made bogey here yesterday – and will need to scramble again today. He sails his tee shot over the green into the same spot as Thursday, and will have a delicate chip to the hole.
After getting a free drop from the TV tower, Tiger was still in the tangly rough, with very little green to work with and water looming if he goes long. But Tiger plays an amazing flop to about three feet and has the putt for his first up-and-down of the week.
He does make it for par and this is the type of unexpected turn that could jump-start his round.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 6 holes; 1 over for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s fifth hole: No. 14, Par 4, 465 yards
Tiger misses a fairway for the first time Friday, getting a little stuck on the downswing and flared it right, where he might have issues with some palm trees.
Tiger is able to make a full swing with his second shot, but comes up about 15 yards short of the green and will need an up-and-down to save par and avoid dropping a shot.
Tiger plays a poor pitch shot, not even making it to the green. He gives his fourth shot – another chip – a run at the hole, but it misses by five inches and Tiger picks up a bogey.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 5 holes; 1 over for the tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s fourth hole: No. 13, Par 4, 388 yards
Tiger hammers a 3-wood down the middle of the 13th fairway. The swing almost longs second nature, as he has been very impressive off the tee this week.
With only 105 yards left to the flag, Tiger nearly knocks it in from the fairway and taps it in for birdie to move back to even for the tournament.
Tiger on the day: 1 under (thru 4 holes; Even for tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Kevin Stadler birdies his opening hole to move to 5 under, one shot behind Davis Love III.
• • •
Tiger’s third hole: No. 12, Par 4, 427 yards
With 3-wood in hand, Tiger finds another fairway at the 12th, and he is simply striping it off the tee. He’ll need to put his approaches closer to the hole if he wants to take advantage of his stellar work from the tee box.
With a very accessible pin location – the left front edge – Tiger challenges it with his second shot and will have a putt inside of 20 feet for birdie.
Tiger leaves another birdie putt short and picks up another par. For whatever reason – maybe the lingering dew – Tiger can’t seem to power it to the hole. Yesterday, he said the greens look faster than they really are.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 3 holes; 1 over for tournament)
• Elsewhere on the course: Carl Pettersson picked up an early birdie to move into a 9-way tie for second place at 4 under.
• • •
Tiger’s second hole: No. 11, Par 4, 450 yards
Tiger pulls iron on the 11th tee and he leans with the ball as it comes to rest on the left side of the fairway. He left himself nearly 180 yards to the flag.
Tiger hits a big sweeping draw to the left side of the green with his second shot, leaving himself about 33 feet for birdie.
Tiger hits another nice lag putt on his birdie attempt and settles for a second-straight par. He hasn’t pushed a putt past the hole yet, which was his main problem on Thursday.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 2 holes; 1 over for tournament)
• • •
Tiger’s first hole: No. 10, Par 4, 508 yards
It’s a warm morning in South Florida, but very calm. Tiger, wearing a blue shirt and grey slacks, will need a good round today to stay in touch with the leaders.
Tiger takes driver off the tee and rips it down the middle. Lots of fans out on the course early, probably 3 or 4 deep. Tiger already has a full lather going, as the humidity is in full force.
Tiger tugs his second shot a bit left and lands on the left fringe, but he’ll have a chance to putt it for birdie from about 50 feet away.
With the green still wet with dew, Tiger hits a beautiful lag putt that was about two revolutions from falling in and he picks up a par on his first hole.
Tiger on the day: Even (thru 1 hole; 1 over for tournament)
• • •
A look at the leaderboard
The first-round leaders won’t tee off until this afternoon, with Davis Love III set for 1 p.m. EST and Rory McIlroy scheduled for 12:30 p.m. EST.
Round 1 is not officially over, as there is a group that still needs to complete its round after darkness halted them on the 17th hole.
• • •
Tiger: Day 1, shot-by-shot
Tiger Woods had his good and bad moments at PGA National on Thursday, and will have plenty of work to do if he hopes to catch leader Davis Love III and those right behind him, including Rory McIlroy.