Trying to become the first player in history to win the same tournament five years in a row, Woods was out of bounds and in the trees on his way to a 2-over 74, which left him nine shots behind Shigeki Maruyama and needing to match his greatest 36-hole comeback to keep the streak alive.
'I just need to play well and put myself in position where I can give it a run on Sunday,' Woods said. 'If the leaders play well, hats off to them. I just need to take care of my own business.'
As surprising as it was to see Woods so far down the leaderboard, it was equally stunning to see Maruyama playing like he owns this course.
In 10 previous rounds at Bay Hill, the Japanese star had never broken 70. Despite a three-putt bogey to end his round, Maruyama still piled up enough birdies for his second straight 66, giving him a two-shot lead over Darren Clarke, Chad Campbell and Stuart Appleby.
Maruyama was among the 36-hole leaders at Torrey Pines four years ago when Woods was trying to win his seventh consecutive PGA Tour event. Asked then if he could end the streak, Maruyama smiled and said, 'No chance.'
He and Woods wound up in a tie for second behind Phil Mickelson that year.
On Friday, Maruyama again showed deference when asked if he was the guy to end Woods' streak at Bay Hill.
'Very difficult question,' he said with a smile. 'Maybe eight shots from Tiger Woods after the third round, I would have a good chance.'
Woods might be the least of Maruyama's worries.
Clarke had a chance to share the lead when he had a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, but he three-putted for bogey, dropping him to a 68. It took him a while to cool off, but Clarke saw the big picture.
'I'm only two shots back going into the weekend, which is not bad,' he said.
Appleby holed a 30-foot birdie putt on his final hole, No. 9, for a 67.
Campbell could be the man to watch on the weekend.
A rock-solid Texan and one of the rising stars on the PGA Tour, he has kept mistakes to a minimum. Campbell escaped serious trouble on the first hole, making a 6-footer for bogey, but he chipped in for birdie on the par-3 second hole for the second straight day and finished with a 68.
Again, the loudest cheers were for his partner -- Arnold Palmer, who can still put on a show.
The 74-year-old tournament host, likely playing in his last Bay Hill Invitational, hit driver from the fairway on No. 18 and chased it up the green to about 30 feet. He got his par for a 79, the first time he has broken 80 at his tournament in three years.
'He's still got some game,' Campbell said.
While it was a treat to play with the King for two days, nothing beats posing with him Sunday when Palmer hands over the trophy and the $900,000 check.
'That would be awesome,' Campbell said. 'But I've got a lot of work ahead of me. I would like the opportunity to be there.'
Several guys won't have that chance.
No one has their work cut out for them quite like Woods.
Maruyama was already done with his 66 when Woods teed off, and it was as clear as the blue skies over Bay Hill that scoring conditions again were benign.
None of that mattered to Woods, who flared a 3-wood out-of-bounds by about 6 inches on No. 11, leading to double bogey. He hit into the trees on No. 15 and had to pitch out sideways, leading to another bogey. And when he tried to get back in the game, Woods missed a 2-foot birdie putt on No. 6.
'I tried to battle back,' Woods said. 'I didn't hit it quite good enough to put myself in position to make putts, and when I did it, I missed.'
He won the '99 Buick Invitational after trailing by nine shots going into the weekend, but he has plenty of proven players among the two dozen guys ahead of him.
Ernie Els, back on the PGA Tour for the first time since winning the Sony Open, shot 72 and finished at 1-over 145, missing the cut by one stroke. Els had the second-longest active cut streak on tour (30), although that was light years behind the 119 in a row that Woods extended Friday.
Retief Goosen also missed the cut with a 74, ending his streak at 30 of consecutive rounds at par or better.
Divots: There have been 51 rounds in the 60s over the first two days, the highest number at the Bay Hill Invitational in 22 years. There were 53 sub-70 scores the first two days in 1982. ... Stephen Ames had a chance to tie the course record of 62 with a birdie on the 18th hole. Instead, he hit into the greenside bunker and wound up with a double bogey for a 7-under 65. ... John Daly, needing two good tournaments to get into the Masters, had a 70 and was six shots behind. ... Vijay Singh shot even-par 72 and was eight shots off the lead.