LOS ANGELES – Here are a few observations from witnessing a trunk-slamming performance from Tiger Woods, who is headed home early from the Genesis Open after a second-round 76 dropped him to 6 over for the tournament:
• After he held on for dear life during the opening round, this was undoubtedly a setback. Woods never quite found his footing on the front side, and by the time he needed a few birdies coming home his best asset for the week - his putter - abandoned him. Rough combination.
• Woods suffered from what scientists (probably) call a case of the Lefts. Of the nine fairways that he missed during the second round, seven of them were down the left side and often into juicy rough. It was a miss that he just couldn’t correct. And this wasn’t just a driver issue – he missed several fairways with iron in hand and hit only two of eight greens this week on the par 3s.
• The putter kept him in it during the opener, and he curled in a pair of early birdie putts Friday to get back to even par. But as the afternoon sun crept over the canyon, the poa annua greens got the better of him as three back-nine three-putts essentially ended his chances of making the cut. The three-putt bogey on the par-5 11th, minutes after he nearly drove the green on No. 10 en route to birdie, was an especially tough blow.
• It’s not all dark clouds and dried tears, though, since Woods’ commitment to next week’s Honda Classic was announced while he was still out on the course at Riviera. Despite a missed cut this week, it’s a promising sign that he feels strong enough to take on a back-to-back that includes cross-country travel.
• That being said, good luck around the Bear Trap. Entering this week it seemed like solving the driver was the key to Woods’ success. After watching him whacking it around Riviera for two straight days, I struggle to find a strong suit upon which he can rely. The driver, the irons and the putter each took turns in letting him down.
• No comeback is without its downturn, and Woods’ is no exception. Yes the game is inconsistent, and the wheels fell off entirely during a back-nine 39. But there were no winces and there were still a few smiles as Woods addressed the media, saying that he’s “both pleased and also not very happy with some parts” of his game. Two steps forward, one step back…now it’s on to PGA National.