PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods striped his tee shot down the middle to open his round Friday at The Players.
He had a sand wedge in hand from 113 yards out.
And he made par.
It was going to be that kind of day.
“I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities I had to really shoot a good number,” Woods said.
With a 1-under-par 71, Woods was riding the cutline when he signed his scorecard, just inside it at 1-under overall, but with the afternoon wave still on the course. In 16 previous starts, he has never missed the cut at The Players.
Woods felt like he squandered opportunities Friday, not so much with his putter, but with his iron play.
“I’m more frustrated in the fact that I had some shorter irons in, and I didn’t hit any of them close,” Woods said. “I should be hitting them inside flag length, and I didn’t do that at all today.”
At the fourth, Woods hit iron off the tee, a straight arrow stinger down the middle of the fairway, leaving him at point-blank range with sand wedge in hand again, from 109 yards out. He attacked the back left pin, running his shot long and into a back bunker.
“Stuck it in the ground, hit it long,” Woods said.
He made par.
At the 11th, Woods had sand wedge in hand yet again, just 129 yards out. He hit it to 17 feet and missed the putt.
“I didn’t quite swing it right today,” Woods said. “I didn’t quite have the shape, the ball flight. I didn’t have much of what I wanted.”
Woods hit eight of 14 fairways, 12 greens in regulation, but his misses weren’t bad. He was just off a hand full of fairways, and he putted from just off more than one green.
The frustration for Woods was knowing the course was there for the taking.
“The golf course could be had today, there was no doubt,” Woods said. “It’s in perfect shape, it’s just playing really short. It’s so hot out here, the ball’s flying. They gave us some pretty accessible pins.”
And Woods managed two birdies and a bogey.
The big picture? Woods looked like he was going to make the cut Friday with playing partners Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler heading home for the weekend. Woods is still farther along than he thought he would be, given he’s 42 and has so many surgeries behind him. His swing continues to generate surprising power. He has already contended at the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It’s ramping up expectations.
If Woods’ position in the cutline holds up Friday, he’ll be looking to ramp up some excitement on Saturday.
“I’ve got to shoot something probably in the mid-60s, both days, to get myself up there to have a chance,” Woods said.