JERSEY CITY, N.J. – 'Come on, Tiger! Smile!'
After walking off the second green having just birdied his opening hole, then two-putting from the fringe on the par-3 second for par, Tiger Woods' face was all business, despite encouragement from fans.
One hole and one birdie later, he finally smiled. He was 2 under through his opening three holes and had moved to 6 under, just three shots off the 36-hole clubhouse lead held by Webb Simpson. He made par at the fourth, then knocked his approach to 5 feet at the fifth and rolled in another birdie.
It's a good thing he got some smiles in early, because the second half of his round was less sizzle and more fizzle.
'I got off to a great start today and then lost it in the middle part of the round and made too many mistakes,' Woods said. 'Didn't hit any greens. Consequently, made some bogeys.'
Woods completed 13 holes before darkness suspended Round 2. He had teed off to the par-3 14th and knocked it to 12 1/2 feet. Of those 13 1/2 holes, Woods hit four of 10 fairways, six of 14 greens and needed 17 putts.
He found his first bunker of the day – an eventual total of six – at the par-5 sixth hole when he knocked 3-wood into the right fairway bunker, just like he did the previous day. He laid up into the fairway, knocked a wedge to 29 feet and two-putted for par. Missed opportunity.
At the next hole, he hit driver for the first time Friday and sent it sailing into the left bunker. His approach shot settled into a swell left of the green and left him with a tough up-and-down to a tucked pin on a slope, with little green to work with. Playing partner Matt Kuchar – and leader of The Barclays at 10 under – had a similar shot before Woods, and opted to putt his. Kuchar rolled his third shot onto the green to 7 feet and made that for par.
Woods took a different route, opting to flop his. Having examined the shot for a couple minutes and after seven practice strokes, Woods hit a perfect shot. So perfect, in fact, it hit the pin and rebounded 8 feet backwards. Woods missed the downhill putt and recorded his first bogey of the day and first of the tournament.
He made pars at the next two holes, then dropped shots at the 10th and 11th to get back to even par for the round and 4 under total.
On the 10th tee box, Woods showed outward signs of back pain for the first time all day. Before teeing off, Woods rotated his torso to the right once and held his stretch. He then sent his 3-wood sailing left and into a fairway bunker. He winced a few times more on the hole as he knocked his approach short and failed to get up-and down.
'I'm a little sore right now,' Woods said after marking his ball and walking off the 14th green.
When asked if the pain increased throughout the round, Woods simply offered a 'yeah' and said that he was going to get treatment upon exiting the course.
At the par-5 13th, Woods hit 3-wood off the tee and found the center of the fairway, unlike the driver he sent sailing left of the adjacent hole's cart path the day before. He knocked his second shot onto the green but it rolled off the back, leaving him plenty of green to work with for his third shot to a front pin. He knocked it to 2 1/2 feet and tapped that in for birdie.
Night was coming quickly, and the group that included Woods, Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker managed to tee off at the par-3 14th and walk up to the green before play was suspended because of darkness at 7:45 p.m. ET. All the players marked their balls and will resume Round 2 tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.