PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Tiger Woods stood with his hands on his hips studying his lie the way a plumber might assess a clogged toilet.
He did this on more than one occasion after hunting down his ball Friday at The Players Championship.
Some unbelievable lies I had today, Woods said.
Give Woods credit, though; hes a spectacular plumber.
Nobody cleans up messes better.
Not since Seve Ballesteros prowled golfs great courses has anyone shot a 3-under-par 69 from more awkward spots.
Despite Woods admirable efforts in the second round, The Players Championship could face a starless weekend with so many of the games biggest names so far back in the pack.
None of the top five players in the world rankings are closer than seven shots from the lead.
At 4-under 140, Woods is tied for 22nd, the best positioned player among the worlds top five.
No. 2 Phil Mickelson, the 2007 champion, and No. 3 Sergio Garcia, the 08 champ, barely made the cut. Theyre tied for 61st, 11 shots back. So is No. 5 Kenny Perry.
No. 4 Geoff Ogilvy is tied for 35th, nine shots back.
The wicked nature of the course, though, gives them all a chance. Mickelson said the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course sets up better than most courses in allowing players going off early to post a score and rocket up the leaderboard.
You just never want to give up here, because too many things can happen on this course, Mickelson said.
Mickelson says hes pleased with his ball striking and just needs to get his putter going. He took a whopping 34 putts in a round of 71 on Friday.
Im going to try to post a low one tomorrow, Mickelson said. You never know, the wind can come up and you move into the top five or 10.
Woods is thinking the same thing.
The way the pins are tomorrow, you can probably shoot a good one if you play well, Woods said.
Woods showed his plumbing skills in cleaning up messes after poor drives at the 14th and 18th holes.
At No. 14, he pushed a 3-wood behind a stand of trees, and he still made birdie.
From 188 yards, he rocketed an 8-iron up over all the trouble to 23 feet, then holed the putt.
At No. 18, he pushed his drive right again behind more trees.
About the same distance out (187 yards), this time he worked his magic in a different direction. This time he de-lofted a 7-iron and ran a low-runner under the trees. His shot skipped and ran to the green, curling around the back of the pin, just 10 feet from the hole. He missed the putt, but it was another terrific escape.
Woods has struggled in recent years on Pete Dyes design here. He hasnt finished in the top 10 at The Players Championship since winning in 01. His errant driving is part of the problem, but so are the short-game challenges this course presents. Woods keeps proving he can get up and down from just from anywhere on the planet, but even he can struggle to get up and down from the little patches of Hades this course offers.
You can end up in pretty diabolical spots here, Woods said. Thats the way Pete Dye designed it.
After watching Woods work his magic Friday, Dye might have to add flaming tar pits to keep Woods from getting up and down.
Still, if golfs biggest stars are going to shine this weekend, it will take more than a great short game to do so.