Tiger Woods nearly missed his second consecutive cut at the PGA Championship on Friday as he shot a 2-over 72 on a day where he needed something much better than that to have hope of contending entering the weekend. Woods teed off late in the day, trailing leader Haotong Li by just six strokes with a lot of runway in front of him. Unfortunately, the plane never got off the ground.
Woods went out in 37, came home in 35 and sits at an even-par 140 after two rounds with an earlier-than-comfortable tee time on Saturday morning with too much ground to make up over the final two days.
Major championship No. 16 is almost certainly out of reach, barring some sort of miracle over the final 36 holes. And while having Tiger around for the weekend at a major is far better than not having Tiger around, the first two days of this week certainly could have gone a lot better than they did.
Tiger's problems on Friday were myriad, but they can mostly be consolidated to one club: his putter. After a great day with his new Scotty Cameron on Thursday, Woods only made 48 feet of putts on Friday and finished outside the top 125 in putting for Round 2. While he hit the golf ball pretty well -- maybe not at a major championship-winning level but good enough -- his putter wouldn't allow him to post any kind of score.
"I drove it great today," said Woods. "That's one of the things I wanted to clean up from yesterday. I didn't do as good a job yesterday of driving the ball as I needed to. Today was different. I drove it great. Missed a few irons on the short side. Didn't get up-and-down.
"I really struggled with getting the speed of the greens today. They looked faster than what they were putting. They were firm coming into the greens, but they weren't putting as fast as they looked. Then as the day wore on, they got a little more fuzzy and got even slower, and I struggled even a little bit more hitting the putts hard enough."
Big Cat never gained any momentum, either, which was the story of his entire group. Other than a birdie on No. 10 (which doubled as his second-longest made putt of the day, from a meager 9 feet), it was all tap-in pars or bogeys until the very end of the round. There was just no juice from somebody who has provided maybe more juice than any golfer in the history of the sport. A late 12-foot birdie on No. 16 kept him inside the cut line and gave him a weekend tee time, but he played his way out of contending for the tournament on Friday.
Maybe that sounds overly pessimistic with 36 holes to go and Woods just eight back, but 24 of the last 25 major winners have been inside the top 10 after 36 holes, and Woods isn't even sniffing that right now. Plus, the names he has in front of him -- Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele -- will be problematic to pass over the last two rounds.
The putter was certainly concern coming into the week. It seemed to be mostly quelled on Thursday as he rolled putts in from all over the yard, but Tiger reverted on Friday to the way he rolled it at the Memorial Tournament three weeks ago when he finished T40 because he didn't putt it well at all.
So now he gets 36 more holes at TPC Harding Park. The grind will be on Saturday and Sunday, and you know Woods will fight until the very end.
But on a day where it felt like his tournament hung in the balance over the last few hours, Woods provided very little hope that major No. 16 is on the horizon. At least not this week.