COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Tiger Woods entered the Memorial Tournament with an important, and very rare, caveat.
Because he's been busy in a variety of personal and professional endeavors off the course, he admittedly hadn't had much time to hone his game since he last played two weeks ago. He's playing his way into game shape for the U.S. Open, which starts June 14.
To some degree, it has showed. In a week in which players have abused the traditionally stodgy Muirfield Village Golf Club, Woods fired an even-par 72 in the second round and fell 10 strokes off the lead at 2 under.
Since he played two weeks ago at The Players Championship, Woods has hosted a benefit concert in Las Vegas for his charity, made a side trip to Washington, D.C., to publicize his upcoming PGA Tour event in July, spent large chunks of time hitting the weight room to build up his body and fulfilled some sponsorship obligations. Oh, and his wife is seven months pregnant to boot.
So while everybody else has been going low, the three-time past Memorial champion has been going nowhere fast, handcuffed by a spotty putter. Including the Players, Woods has scored in the 60s only once in his past six rounds.
"I just have to make more putts, simple as that," he said. "I am hitting it good enough and putting myself in position to make those putts, but I haven't got it done."
By comparison, leader Adam Scott had 11 birdies in the second round. "It's frustrating because the course can be had out there," Woods said. "It's pretty soft."
The Memorial has become the Australian Open. In addition to Oz native Scott, countrymen Rod Pampling, Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy and Nick O'Hern are very much in the mix heading into the weekend. There are no plausible explanations, really, short of one. All are ranked in the top 37 in the world.
"We're all good players, that's what's going on," O'Hern said.
All in the wrist
Phil Mickelson, who on Thursday withdrew from a PGA Tour event for the first time in his career because of injury after tweaking his left wrist at Muirfield Village, saw a doctor near his home in San Diego on Friday and the exam revealed no apparent damage, just inflammation.
Mickelson has committed to play next week in Memphis as his final tune-up before the U.S. Open begins but said through a spokesman Friday that the chances are iffy that he will play. "My intention is still to play Memphis," he said. "But at this point, realistically, the chances are probably 50-50. I don't want to jeopardize the opportunity to compete at the U.S. Open."
Mickelson, who had an MRI and CT scan exams, is taking anti-inflammatories.
Among the more intriguing players in the field next week at the Stanford St. Jude Championship are two promising prospects. Pablo Martin -- a native of Spain who plays at Oklahoma State -- two months ago won a European Tour event in Portugal, the first ever to win on the circuit as an amateur. Martin, a junior who is considered the best college player in the country by many, is competing this week at the NCAA Division I Championships. He received a sponsor invitation and will forgo his senior year of eligibility to turn pro.
Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, also received a sponsor invitation. He was the 2006 American Junior Golf Association player of the year.