Tiger Woods score: Decent day at Farmers can't save 16th missed cut of career

Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996. Including the last part of that year, he has now played 21 years on the PGA Tour (not including the one he missed in 2016 because of injury). On Friday at the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods missed just his 16th cut in that time. Woods followed his 76 in Round 1 with a 72 in Round 2 that left him at 4 over, four strokes outside of the cut line.

That means in the 314 PGA Tour events in which he has played as a pro, Woods has missed just 16 cuts. That's preposterous when you consider the other golfers who have played so much less and missed so many more weekends. Of course, this is also Woods fourth missed cut in his last seven events dating back to the end of 2015.

This is especially notable because of the cut-making record Woods holds.

But enough of the fawning over Woods' past. What about the present? Woods looked downright putrid on Thursday on the South Course when he hit just four of 14 fairways and looked like 20 years older than his age off the tee. It was disconcerting and at times uncomfortable to watch.

Friday was better. Much better.

Woods had fewer misses in Round 2, and the ones he did fan out to the right didn't miss by 50 yards like they did on Thursday. As the round rolled on, Woods even seemed to gain some confidence off the tee.

"It's frustrating to not have a chance to win the tournament," Woods told reporters after the round. "I didn't make the cut. Overall, today was a lot better than yesterday. I hit it much better today which was nice. We fixed a few things while playing today which was good. Good communication between [caddie] Joey [LaCava] and I out there while playing. I feel like I made some nice strides. Just wish I could've been playing the weekend because I love this golf course."

His short game was surprisingly crisp all week. The difference on Friday is that he was narrowly missing lengthy birdies instead of barely saving shorter pars. You can blame the wicked South Course on Thursday for punishing the oft-wayward Woods.

Tiger's playing partners Jason Day and Dustin Johnson didn't fare much better. Both shot over par. Both missed the cut. A giant stink bomb from the three most famous TaylorMade staffers in the sport. Woods actually beat both of them by two strokes on Friday.

So now Woods turns to the Middle East where he will play the Dubai Desert Classic next week on the European Tour. He expressed a little bit of concern for how his body would hold up on the long flight to Dubai.

"The only concern is I have a long flight ahead of me," said Woods. "How is my body going to handle flights? Flying out here is something I hadn't done in a while. Now we have a pretty good jaunt, 17 hours. It will be good. It is a long process in the mornings. Trying to get ready and warmed up. The task and tall order is to stay warm and stay loose. That's one of the things I hadn't dealt with."

This missed cut, while disappointing, is not entirely surprising. Old Tom Morris himself would struggle to make the cut at a difficult track like Torrey Pines after 17 months on the shelf.

"Playing tournament golf is a little bit different than playing with your buddies with a cart," said Woods. "I need to get more rounds under my belt. More playing time. That's what I'm trying to do."

He will get plenty of it with the Genesis Open and Honda Classic coming up in the three weeks following Dubai. As for what lies ahead the rest of the year, I'm not sure what to think. There is no right way to categorize Woods, and the last chapter of his career will be the most difficult. Through 30 or so holes, I was left wondering if there would ever be enough time to fully shed all that rust. That's how stuck Woods' swing looked.

The last part of the back nine on Friday offered a glimmer of hope, though. You could tell that under the shell of age that engulfs us all, there was that lithe, whipping swing that has done so much damage to so many professional golfers. Whether that was a mirage because I'd watched too much golf or a reality because Woods was finally clicking a little bit, I do not know.

We're probably going to find out a lot in the next month as Woods has (at minimum) 108 holes to figure out what 2017 is going to look like. It's far too soon to label his return to golf after 522 days away anything but incomplete. This two-day stretch will simply be the foundation for how we talk about him in the near (and distant) future.

If he's terrible, we will say, "You could see it early." If he's great, we will say, "It was just a blip."

Either way, we all know the first three months of the calendar are a north star for the main event in Georgia. Woods, despite his struggles and shortcomings, already has one eye on Augusta.

"I'm trying to get ready for that first full week in April," said Woods. "That's when I eventually want to have everything come together. That's the plan."

And there is no backup in place.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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