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On Day 2, Woods improves across the board

Tiger Woods
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SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods' second round at the Open on Friday was more exemplary of the fine tuning the world No. 51 said he required, and the reason he is in the field this week. Woods shot 3-under 68 to overcome a weak, sandy and slow start at CordeValle and get to 1 under par at the halfway mark.

'Just had to keep working at it,” Woods said. “It's easy to do at home. It's a little harder to do out here.”

Though he had to wait two hours, 20 minutes longer than he anticipated to begin his round, Woods was consistently better in every facet of the game Friday – even if some of the numbers don't show it.

The 14-time major winner hit one fewer fairway than Thursday despite being able to use 3-wood almost exclusively as opposed to the dozen drivers he hit in the opening round. Woods' misses were minor and, perhaps most importantly, consistently just a few yards off the fairway to the left.

For a second straight day, Woods cited his posture as the reason for his errant tee ball.

'I get into my old posture, and the way I'm rotating through the ball now, that ball is going to go left, so I just need to get better posture, and when I do, I can hit a fade or a draw,' he said. 'I just get into these lulls where I kind of go back to my old comfort, especially out here when I'm in tournament mode and got to hit shots.'

Woods also officially took two more putts to get around the secluded San Martin course, but with the glaring exception of a putt hit 7 feet past the cup at the short par-3 seventh hole, he improved on both the speed and line of his putts.

He had every excuse in the book for his stroke on Thursday, but the miracle cure was an off-the-shelf golf product.

'I added two strips of lead [tape] on the bottom of it to add a little more weight to get the ball to the hole and fixed my posture again a little bit on the putter,” he said. “When I did that, I was able to see the line.”

The biggest factor in the five-shot improvement over Thursday, however, is how many greens Woods hit. He found 14, including three consecutive birdies from the 14th through 16th which were reminiscent of the form Woods is so desperate to find, last spotted on the Sunday front nine at Augusta National. It remains elusive and still on the endangered species list, but it could be nursed back to health.

Getting around in 68 is not a world-beating round by any stretch of the imagination, although it does end a skid of six straight rounds where Woods could not break par. And, yes, Woods made his first 36-hole cut since The Masters, though it is only his second event back and Firestone sent no one packing. He also avoids missing consecutive cuts for the first time in his career, though he said that was not on his mind entering Friday play.

'I don't like missing cuts, period,” he said. “If I miss the cut, that means you can't win the tournament on the weekend. I've got a shot at it this weekend.'

As Woods said Thursday, his goal for this round was to get back into the tournament. In that regard, he failed to accomplish his mission. He trails fellow Nike disciple, the jet-lagged Paul Casey, by seven shots instead of the half-dozen from the day prior. Nevertheless, Woods has improved nearly 50 places on the leaderboard in less than 24 hours – he is now T-37, up from T-86.