Tiger Woods will be around for the weekend at the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club.
Needing to avoid a bogey down the stretch to stay on the right side of the cut line, the 15-time major champion did better than that, with a birdie on the 16th hole. He shot 1-under 69 in the second round on Friday, which pushed him to 3 over through 36 holes.
While Woods isn’t positioned on the leaderboard where he probably wants to be (he was tied for 52nd when he finished), he’s still sticking around for the final 36 holes, which is more than what PGA stars such as world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Daniel Berger can say after missing the cut. Woods has made the cut in 18 of 22 starts at the PGA Championship.
“You can’t win the tournament if you miss the cut,” Woods said. “I’ve won tournaments — not major championships, but I’ve won tournaments on the cut number. There’s a reason why you fight hard and you’re able to give yourself a chance on the weekend. You just never know when you might get hot. This weekend I’m going to have to go low. It’s going to be different. The wind is going to be coming out of the north. It’s going to be cooler.”
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Woods is playing in just his second official tour event since he was seriously injured in a car accident outside Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 2021. He seemed to be more comfortable and engaged on Friday than he was in the first round, when he shot 4-over 70. He played in the morning wave on Thursday and seemed to benefit from a later tee time on Friday.
When Woods was asked to describe his level of discomfort after Friday’s round, he said, “All of that.”
Woods was also on the right side of the draw in terms of the weather; he didn’t have to battle wind gusts up to 25 mph that plagued other players on Friday morning. The wind had largely died down by the time Woods and his playing partners, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, started their round.
While Woods limped and grimaced at times, he battled and fought through pain in his surgically repaired right leg once again. There were glimpses of the old Woods, too. The par-4 16th hole, the third toughest this week, was a perfect example. He hammered his tee shot down the middle of the fairway, leaving him 209 yards to the hole. He hit his ball to four feet with a 5-iron, which was probably his best iron shot of the tournament. Woods’ birdie was just the ninth on the 521-yard hole.
After suffering a double-bogey on the par-3 11th, Woods got back on the right side of the cut line by sinking an eight-foot birdie on the par-5 13th. He grimaced badly after hitting a layup shot on that hole. He made another big par save on the par-3 14th, sinking a 14½-footer after a poor chip shot from just off the green.
Even with Woods trailing leader Will Zalatoris by 12 shots, he’s still holding out hope that he can somehow climb back into contention. It would probably take a couple of rounds like what Bubba Watson did on Friday, shooting 7-under 63.
“I’m hoping I can shoot a number like Bubba did today tomorrow,” Woods said. “That’s where my mind is at right now. I’ve got to do some things physically to get myself there tomorrow and it will be a quick turnaround. That’s the reward you get for just making the cut. You get to tee off early the next day, and hopefully I can get it in.
“The weather is supposed to be a little more difficult and be a little more testy, and hopefully that’s the case. If that’s the case, hopefully I can post a good round and at least move up the board, get myself within striking distance on Sunday. I’m pretty far back, but you just never know. Major championships are hard to win. We’ve seen guys with big leads or have made big comebacks, so you just never know.”
Woods seemed to be in good shape for the cut after he made a 10½-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th hole, which moved him to 1 under in the round. But on the next hole, the par-3 11th, he badly pulled his tee shot to the left. He knocked his second shot into a greenside bunker, and then couldn’t get up and down from eight feet. The double-bogey 5 dropped him to 5 over for the tournament.
It could have gotten worse for him on the par-4 12th. After knocking his tee shot into the fairway, Woods hit his second shot into another bunker. After chipping out, he made a 14-footer to save par.
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