Tiger Woods barely sneaks inside cut line at Northern Trust with superb irons, balky putter

August 24, 2018

Tiger Woods will be around for the weekend in New Jersey — but just barely. The 14-time major champion missed a four-footer for par at No. 18 and had to sweat out the cut line after posting his second consecutive round of even-par 71.

Woods married superb iron play with a balky putter in the Northern Trust Open’s second round. For much of his round, the 14-time major champion put on a ballstriking clinic, hitting the first 14 greens in regulation. But he was only able to convert on two birdie putts in that stretch, even as the leaders stretched the lead to double digits under par. Woods missed his first green of the day at the short par-3 15th, where his nine-iron settled on the edge of the fringe. He bellied a wedge from there some five feet past the hole and lipped out the comebacker for the day’s first bogey.

Tiger Woods
Tiger struggled to get anything going with his putter on Friday.
Getty Images

Woods managed the par-5 17th poorly as well. After missing the fairway just to the right, he laid up to an awkward lie in the left rough and left his third shot short of the green. The right edge of the hole barely caught his five-footer for par as the cut line teetered between even par and one under.

Woods’s 18th hole was microcosmic of the day’s entire experience: driver down the middle, stock eight-iron to the center of the green, and then an unforced error on his first putt, leaving himself with a slippery four-footer for par.

Woods lined up his par putt at the left edge, expecting it to turn right and into the hole. Instead it never moved, and Woods could only manage a quizzical look as he tapped in for bogey.

Woods summed up his shortcomings on the green. “No matter how good your drive is, you’ve still got to roll them and still got to make putts and I didn’t putt very well today. I had a hard time seeing my lines, and consequently, didn’t make anything.”

Woods opened with two-putt birdies at the first two holes before hitting the par-5 3rd hole with his second shot. He three-putted that for par. From there it was largely greens and two-putts, interrupted only by an eight-footer for birdie at No. 7 and a five-footer for another birdie at 13.

Woods finished the day hitting 16 of 18 greens and 9 of 14 fairways. He lost nearly three shots to the field just with the putter. “I wasn’t going to be near the lead but at least I could peck away at it a little bit. I just never made any birdies. Five for two days, that’s not going to get it done out here,” he said.

Woods will begin the third round 10 shots behind co-leaders Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark. He has missed just two cuts in 2018 and none since the U.S. Open during his ascension back to No. 26 in the world. After his round, Woods headed straight for the practice green. The New York City crowds will be clamoring for early birdies in Saturday’s round. Time will tell if Woods can deliver.