PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The sun was shining and the conditions were calm as Tiger Woods chatted happily with his amateur partner, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, on the first tee at Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course on Friday morning. But as the weather changed course, so did Woods’s mood over the miserable and soggy back nine.
Midway through Woods’s front nine in the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the clouds quickly started rolling in. “Crosby weather,” Bing Crosby called it when he spearheaded this event, original called the Clambake.
Blindsided by the sideways rain, Woods hadn’t packed rain gear or an umbrella in his bag. He wasn’t alone. Tournament leader Charlie Wi, who fired a 3-under 69 at Pebble Beach Golf Links to take a three-shot advantage at 12 under, left his umbrella behind. So did Dustin Johnson, who posted an even-par 72 at Spyglass Hill, putting him in solo second at 9-under.
“My dad always said, you only get wet once,” said Woods, whose black sweater was soaked with raindrops after shooting a disappointing two-under 68 at MPCC.
Woods hit 11 of 13 fairways (the Shore course has five par-3 holes) and technically 16 of 18 greens, though it was closer to 17 if you count the par-5 12th hole, where his chip rolled into the fringe. He pulled his tee shots on the fourth and 16th holes into fairway bunkers, which led to his two bogeys of the day.
His swing looked controlled and balanced. Given the above stats, Woods’s shortcomings obviously weren’t with his ball-striking. He needed 33 strokes on the greens, but he wasn’t rolling it poorly. Like Thursday, Woods drained the must-make par putts from six-to-12 feet, with the exception of the seven-footer he missed on No. 4. He burned a few edges, lipped a couple out, and misread some breaks—they just weren’t dropping.
Though Woods was striking the ball well, he said he wasn’t putting himself in the ideal spots, which meant he had difficult birdie putts.
“The hard part was leaving myself the right looks,” said Woods, who is tied for 17th. “I had to be below the hole. Downhill putts aren't just going to go in. They’re bobbling a little bit too much for that. So I didn’t put myself in the easier spots. I had some bigger breaking putts or downhill putts and consequently I just couldn’t be aggressive.”
Woods blamed some of his misses the poa greens, which tend to become less smooth as the day goes on. On the par-3 14th, his 25-footer hopped its way to the hole, seemingly staying on line the entire way, but just burned the edge.
“I needed to leave myself below the hole,” he said. “With the greens getting bumpy like this, you just have to be aggressive on these things and take out some of the movement, and I just didn’t do that.”
Woods was still in good spirits on the par-5 10th hole, right around the time it started to drizzle, but the weather didn’t become soggy and really irritating until the par-5 12th.
Going for the green in two, Woods launched a 3-wood into the gallery on the left, where it bounced off a fan and settled in the rough on a downhill side slope. A reporter told the fan that if he acted seriously hurt Tiger might give him a souvenir, but suggested he lose the San Francisco Giants jacket because Tiger’s a Dodgers guy.
The fan cracked, “Oh, never mind, I don’t want anything then.”
A few minutes later, Woods walked up with a big, friendly smile. “Is everyone OK?” he asked. “Sorry about that.”
Informed that the guy he hit was a Giants fan, a still-grinning Woods said, “Oh, you’re not getting anything then.”
At that point, Woods and Romo, along with the other half of the group, Arjun Atwal and Danny Lane, were still talking happily, cracking jokes and breaking into bouts of laughter occasionally. But as they started running out of holes, Woods’s grin turned into a slight scowl. The several missed birdie opportunities appeared to be getting to him.
“I’m not displeased with my putting at all,” he said. “If we were putting smooth greens, it would be a totally different deal. I know I can put those in all day.”
At the midway point of the tournament, Woods trails Wi by six shots. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen bigger comebacks with one round left, but Woods knows he needs to conjure some magic at Pebble Beach on Saturday to have a chance on Sunday.
“Some of the guys will be coming over here and playing here [at MPCC],” he said. “So I’m looking for some of those guys to shoot five, six, seven, eight under. I’m going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow to give myself a chance going into Sunday.”
He’ll likely be packing an umbrella as well.