A tale of two nines: Tiger's up-and-down day


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - The scorecard never lies, except when it comes to Tiger Woods.

Woods was happy with his final round of 1-over 73 at The Players Championship despite scoring poorly on the front nine.

'I didn't really hit any bad shots and, all of a sudden, I had a bogey, a birdie and a double (bogey),' he said. 'We were looking back on it and didn't hit any bad shots and here you are at 2-over for the day.'

For as well as Woods said he struck the ball on Sunday, a four-hole stretch left Woods in danger of sliding all the way to his worst 72-hole total in this championship.

At the short par-4 fourth, Woods' approach from 135 yards hit a stiff gust. Woods hit it left, while the wind knocked it short into the water. 

Woods striped his drive at the fifth, but long and left. Hitting outside the ropes and onto the walkway dividing the fairway, Woods was left a lousy lie but still managed par.

A hole later, Woods again pulled his tee shot - this time with a long iron. With a nasty lie in the bunker, Woods came up short but pleased.

'The best shot I hit all week was at No. 6,' he said. 'I pulled my tee shot in there and I had just a nasty lie out of the fairway bunker. It was sitting down, ball above my feet, and I hit it just absolutely perfect into the worst spot you could possibly put yourself.'

A one-handed follow-through came next at the seventh, finding the sand again. He managed par. He tugged it once again at the long par-3 eighth, hitting a somewhat indifferent chip en route to another bogey.

Since beginning his work with teacher Sean Foley, Woods' miss is to the left. As he compresses the ball to create distance at impact, Woods is prone to shut the club face.

'Just the lack of rotation. I just don't continue the rotation,' Woods explained of his outside-in swing.

Walking off the eighth green at his lowest point and 4 over on the day, Woods seemed to correct the problem. He belted a driver at the par-5 ninth, some 30 yards past playing partner Jim Furyk. It was the start of a 10-hole rally to salvage an under-par week. 

Woods played the short 12th nearly perfect, making a 4-foot birdie. He netted an unconventional birdie after a flared tee shot at the par-5 16th. At the island-green 17th, Woods then took dead aim. The short birdie putt got him back to 1 under on the week. A final par prevented Woods from finishing at par or worse for the seventh time in 15 Players starts.

The finish was not what Woods wanted, but he is pleased with a change in his ball flight which may eliminate his case of the lefts.

'I'm able to start hitting up in the air again,' he said, 'and sending it with confidence.'