Woods, the No. 1 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket, destroyed Stephen Ames in Wednesday's first round to the tune of 9 and 8, but Thursday's second-round match was nothing like that. He defeated Robert Allenby, 1-up, but it came down to the last hole in regulation.
He won the seventh with a 9-foot birdie putt, then evened the match with a birdie at the par-5 eighth. Woods took his first lead when Allenby conceded the 10th, then the pair halved the next five holes.
At the par-3 16th, Allenby converted a 9-foot birdie putt to square the match. The duo halved 17 with pars to set up a showdown on La Costa's par-5 closing hole.
Both players found the fairway off the tee and Woods dumped his second in a left, greenside bunker. Allenby pushed his shot right of the green, which was a tough spot with the pin on that side.
Allenby pitched his third 40 feet past the hole. Woods blasted out to 8 feet and the Aussie lagged his birdie putt close enough for Woods to concede par. The No. 1 player in the world drained the birdie putt to move into the third round.
'What you did yesterday is no consequence for what you're going to do today. You have to block it out,' said Woods. 'I didn't get off to a good start today. I felt if I could turn the thing around, I could be up at the turn. That was my goal. I almost got there.'
Woods will face fellow American Chad Campbell in Friday's third round. Campbell, the fifth seed, advanced with a birdie at the 18th to top Henrik Stenson, 1-up.
The other half of the Jones bracket also features a pair of Americans. Defending champion David Toms won the 14th and 15th holes, then held on to beat two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, 2 and 1. Toms, the second seed, will meet American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman. The No. 11 seed upset third-ranked Adam Scott, 1-up, on Thursday.
Phil Mickelson won the battle of gallery favorites. The reining PGA champion, seeded second in the Ben Hogan bracket, toppled John Daly, 2 and 1.
Mickelson was 2-up through seven holes, but Daly knotted things up by the turn. The lefthander took a 1-up lead with an eagle at the 11th and seemed poised to put things away with birdies and wins at 13 and 14.
Mickelson bogeyed 15 to give one back to Daly, but had a great opportunity to end the match at the par-3 16th. Mickelson missed a 5-foot birdie chance, but the two halved 17 to allow Mickelson to advance.
'I knew it was going to be a tough day,' admitted Mickelson. 'I thought I had a couple of chances to make it an easier day. He finds a way to make birdies when he has to, and I was lucky to get it in the end.'
Mickelson's third-round opponent will be third-seeded Englishman David Howell, who moved on with a 3-and-2 victory over Scott Verplank. The other match will feature No. 9 Mike Weir, a 1-up winner in 20 holes over Bernhard Langer, and Geoff Ogilvy, the 13th seed who beat Nick O'Hern, 1-up in 21 holes.
Vijay Singh had never made it past the second round in this event, but that changed on Thursday. He overcame a slow start to defeat Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2 and 1.
Singh, ranked first in the Gary Player side, will meet fifth-seeded Padraig Harrington. The Irishman birdied 16 and 17 to draw even with Angel Cabrera, then collected his 1-up victory on the first extra hole.
Chris DiMarco, the runner-up last year and the No. 2 seed in the Player bracket, pummeled Arron Oberholser, 6 and 5. DiMarco's third-round opponent will be Davis Love III, the sixth seed, who defeated Carl Pettersson, 1-up.
Retief Goosen, the top seed in the Sam Snead bracket, eliminated Ben Crane, 2 and 1. The two-time U.S. Open winner has a third-round match with fourth-seeded Luke Donald, who was a 4 and 3 winner over Shigeki Maruyama.
The other half of the bracket features two of the lowest seeds left in the tournament. Zach Johnson, ranked 15th, won 1-up against Sean O'Hair and will face No. 11 Shingo Katayama on Friday. Katayama earned a 3-and-2 victory over Colin Montgomerie in the second round.