5 months with out competition, and Tiger Woods was grinding over key shots and large putts Friday on the Memorial. None was larger than a 7-foot par putt on his final pit.
It saved him from going home.
Woods missed a pair of 3-foot putts early that shut down any momentum, twice missed the green with awkward chip shots in deep rugged and needed to finish birdie-birdie-par for a 4-over 76.
It was simply enough to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, his highest 36-hole rating at Muirfield Village since his Memorial debut in 1997.
The Memorial, the Masters and the Arnold Palmer Invitational are the one tournaments he has played no less than 15 occasions with out failing to make the cut.
Woods mentioned his back felt slightly stiff whereas warming up and he couldn’t transfer by his swing like he would have appreciated. He mentioned it was a battle on a heat, calm morning at Muirfield Village.
However when requested if it was sufficient to maintain him from enjoying the remainder of the week, Woods replied, “I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow.”
Woods was outside the cut when he completed, and he was helped by a pair of fellow Californians. Max Homa completed with two bogeys, and Bryson DeChambeau made a 10 on the par-5 15th pit, shifting the cut to 3 over.
Ryan Palmer (68) and Tony Finau (69) managed simply tremendous and had been tied for the lead, leaving Woods 12 shots behind going into the weekend.
The end at least gave him an opportunity.
Woods needed to lay up from deep rugged in need of the water on the sixth pit — he began on the back 9 — and missed a par putt simply outside 5 ft to fall to 6 over for his round. He appeared to be executed. He wasn’t transferring properly, the look of somebody who could be heading home shortly.
However he discovered the fairway on the par-5 seventh and made birdie from a greenside bunker. Then, he rolled in 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-Three eighth. He discovered extra hassle on the ninth, sending his tee shot to the suitable, in rugged and blocked by bushes, leaving his solely choice to chip out to the fairway.
From there, his wedge spun back to 7 ft below the pit and he made that par for to have hope.
“I finished birdie-birdie-par,” he mentioned. “That’s about the only positive to it today.”
He wasn’t certain what to make about his back, which has undergone 4 surgical procedures, the last one to fuse his lower backbone. He has recovered nicely sufficient to win three extra times, together with the Masters last 12 months for his 15th main.
Woods last played Feb. 16 within the chilly at Riviera, where he completed last within the Genesis Invitational with a 76-77 weekend. He attributed stiffness that week to the chilly. As for Ohio in July?
Woods mentioned he felt tremendous when he awoke, not a lot whereas going by his practice periods.
“It wasn’t quite as good as I’d like, and it what it is,” he mentioned, including later, “It’s going to happen more times than not.”
What actually irritated him was his placing. He three-putted from about 35 ft on the par-5 11th, lacking a 3-footer for birdie. Two holes later, after an excellent play from the rugged to right side of the green, he rolled a quick putt to three ft and missed that par putt. After which when he chopped up the par-5 15th for bogey, the remainder of the day grew to become a battle.
From a fairway bunker right of the 17th fairway, he despatched his shot high on the hill into rough so deep it took him a couple of minutes to seek out it. With the greens so brittle, he hit that by the placing surface into extra rough, and he needed to make an 8-foot putt to flee with bogey.
Making the flip, Woods had an ungainly lie together with his ball within the collar of a bunker. He caught all ball and despatched that long, by the green and right into a bunker, failed to get up-and-down and took double bogey.
His subsequent shot sailed to the precise towards a hazard, and Woods merely hung his head. He still managed to have enough left on the finish to offer him an opportunity.
Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial, and his subsequent victory would set the PGA Tour career record of 83. Additionally looming is the first major of the 12 months on the PGA Championship in three weeks.
For a 44-year-old who gained the first of his 82 tour titles at age 20, time isn’t on his aspect.
“Aging is not fun,” he mentioned. “Early on in my career, I thought it was fantastic because I was getting better and better and better. And now I’m just trying to hold on.”