Tiger Woods needs to close big gap Sunday at U.S. Open

FARMINGDALE, N.Y.—It looks like this will not be Tiger Woods’s Open. But at least he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.“I've 36 more holes over the next, probably, three days,” Woods said after completing his second round Saturday afternoon. “You never know.”Woods joked about the unfavorable weather forecast, but one reason he isn’t on the leaderboard is the weather. He caught the unlucky half of the draw this week. The players who had early tee times Thursday have seen the worst of the weather, and as of late Saturday afternoon, only one of those players was among the top 15—Steve Stricker, who shot a second-round 66.Woods had another not-so-great finish in round 2. After four straight pars, he bogeyed his final hole, the par-4 ninth.  He posted 69 Saturday to get to 143, three over par. He started the third round Saturday evening and parred his first hole, the 10th, before play was suspended.  “Unfortunately, my score doesn’t reflect how I’ve been playing,” he said. “If I keep plugging along, just like any U.S. Open, with a birdie here and there, we’ll see where I end up.”The good news is, he made the cut. He still has time to make up ground. The bad news is, he's 11 shots behind leader Ricky Barnes. More good news: He was only five strokes out of seventh place. He’d be in a much better position if not for his blow-up finish in the opening round -- he finished double-bogey, bogey, par, bogey.“Yesterday was the day that did it,” Woods said. “Especially on my half of the draw. I had to finish at even or one over at the worst because I think one under was the best on my side of the draw. That would have been a really good score. Instead, I ended up at four over par and that was about the mean for the day on my side, which is not what it takes to win a U.S. Open. You have to do better than that.”Woods feels he is continuing to play fairly well, but he has struggled with the speed of the greens, which have been inconsistent due to the moisture. He played his final nine Saturday in intermittent light rain. “The greens are so bumpy and so slow, and they’re getting slower and slower,” Woods said.  “The frustrating thing is, you have to hit the putts so hard. It’s hard to make yourself hit the putts hard enough considering this is a U.S. Open. Generally, the greens are pretty quick. You don’t want to run the ball past the hole, trust me. It’s a little tough coming back. The putts I hit well aren’t going in. The putts I hit poorly aren’t even coming close.”The stats back him up. Tiger hit 14 greens in the second round and 10 of 14 fairways. That’s not bad. He has only seven birdies in two days, but the real problem is bogeys and  "others." He made three bogeys in each of the first two rounds and two double bogeys in the first round.  “The only thing you have to worry about out here is spinning the ball back too much,” Woods said, discussing the softness of the rain-dampened greens. “Even the 5-irons and 6-irons are ripping back. That’s different from most U.S. Opens.”

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by Kevin Cunningham