- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tiger Woods has missed the cut for just the eighth time as a professional on the PGA Tour.
Woods could manage just a 1-over 73 at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and didn't make a birdie over his final nine holes to finish at even-par 144. The 36-hole cut was 1 under.
"I figured I needed to get to 3 under to be safe, 2 under for sure," Woods said before departing. "It's frustration. I'm not playing a weekend where I have a chance to compete for a title. I've missed my share of cuts in the past, and none of them feel good."
Woods likely will now head to South Florida for the weekend to sort out his swing and his game before next week's Players Championship -- where he's withdrawn each of the past two years.
Nick Watney shot 64 to take the early tournament lead at 12 under.
This marks just the eighth time since Woods turned pro in 1996 that he missed a 36-hole cut, and the first time he's done so twice at the same venue or tournament. Woods also missed the cut here in 2010 in just his second tournament after returning from a five-month break because of personal issues.
Woods' last missed cut came at the 2011 PGA Championship in Atlanta, where he was playing for the second time after a four-month break because of knee and Achilles injuries.
After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25, Woods was considered a huge favorite going into the Masters. But he never broke par and finished tied for 40th, his worst performance at Augusta National as a pro.
Woods felt good about his work the past two weeks with swing coach Sean Foley, who said his client struggled with posture issues.
But Woods again lamented the inability to play properly with a new swing and lapsing into old habits.
"It all has to do with my setup," he said. "When I get over the golf ball and feel uncomfortable, I hit it great. I want to get comfortable, and I follow my old stuff and hit it awful. I just tried to get uncomfortable and feel as bad as I could and then I striped it.
"I know what I need to do. I just need more reps doing it. ... We've changed a bunch of different things, and every now and then, I fall into the old stuff. And that doesn't work, the combo platter of old and new."
All of this occurred despite a fortunate ruling for Woods at the par-5 fifth hole, where Woods hooked his second shot to the left of the green -- and nobody could find it. A lost ball would have meant a penalty stroke and going back to the original spot to hit again, but witnesses told a PGA Tour rules official that they saw the ball land and that a spectator must have picked it up. Woods got a free drop and made par.
"It was a very unusual situation, but based on all the evidence ... where else could the ball have been," PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell said. "It was like being lost on the floor right here."
None of that mattered, however, when Woods wasn't able to birdie any of the closing holes. He had a 5-footer at the par-4 eighth that might have put him on the cut line, but missed it. At the ninth, his last, he left himself a 50-footer and two-putted. Woods parred all nine holes on the front, and for the round made just two birdies.
Woods hit 14 greens in regulation but needed 33 putts and was ranked 122nd in the field in total putts.
From the 1998 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am -- where he actually didn't return to play a rain-delayed round -- to the 2005 Byron Nelson Championship, Woods did not miss a cut on the PGA Tour, a record 142 straight tournaments.
Since that time, no player has gone as many as 50 straight tournaments without missing a cut -- although Steve Stricker heads into next week's Players Championship at 49 straight.
"It's a great week, this is one of my favorite tour stops," Woods said. "Unfortunately I'm just not going to be around for it."