JERSEY CITY, N.J. – It was another uninspiring performance from Tiger Woods Thursday at The Northern Trust. Here are my observations after a 4-over 75 that leaves Woods in danger of missing his second consecutive cut:
• Tiger definitely looked like a guy who was playing just his 13th competitive round since the Masters. He posted negative strokes gained numbers in every major statistical category. One word to sum that up: Rust.
• On the plus side, he didn’t seem to show any ill effects of the back stiffness that led him to just chip and putt for half of his pro-am round Wednesday. He said he was a “little stiff" Thursday, but mostly this was just bad, sloppy golf, plain and simple. “I was just off,” he conceded.
• Most troubling was his iron play. That’s been one of the highlights this season – he’d rank fifth on Tour in that category if he’d had enough rounds to qualify. But on Thursday he seemed to master the 220-yard long irons, but not the 130-yard wedges. He found just 10 greens.
• To that point: He made bogey on No. 12 after having just 138 yards to the flag. He made double on the 140-yard 14th. From 138 yards on No. 15, he could only hit it to 30 feet. And on No. 17, from 118 yards? Bunker. Not good!
• What’s causing the issues with the wedges? Could be a technical issue. Could be rust and a lack of scoring touch. Could be a sore back. But here’s what we do know: It’s been an issue all summer. He’d rank 185th on Tour from 75-125 yards. Yikes.
• When he finished his round, only one player in the morning wave was worse than Tiger. It was that kind of day.
• And so Woods now needs something in the mid-60s – at least – just to stick around for the weekend. It could be an important day. Right now he’s projected to drop from 28th to 33rd in the FedExCup. That means he’s no longer assured of defending his title at the Tour Championship. That means he'll need to post a decent result next week at the no-cut BMW.