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Friday, May 7, 2010
Updated: May 8, 8:06 AM ET
Woods 9 shots behind Westwood

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Give Tiger Woods credit: He doesn't mind taking a few self-deprecating jabs these days.

A week after playing one of the worst rounds of his career, which led to just his sixth missed cut on the PGA Tour, Woods shot 71 on Friday at the Players Championship, qualifying for the final two rounds but leaving himself well back of 36-hole leader Lee Westwood.

"I got a pension point," Woods quipped afterward, referring to the PGA Tour's credit-based pension plan for which one of the world's richest athletes should have no worries.

Still, it was a positive step after last weekend, which saw Woods shoot his second-highest score ever on the PGA Tour (79), miss the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship by a whopping 8 strokes and then deal with speculation about changing his swing coach.

Woods was not as consistent as Thursday's opening-round 70, but he again hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and required 31 putts and finished at 141, 3 under, 9 strokes back of Westwood.

"Got to keep plodding along, and this golf course, anything can happen," Woods said. "You know that. There are guys that can make 3s and guys that can make 6s out there on the same hole."

When Woods finished with the morning wave and half the field was still just getting started on its second round, he was tied for 41st place and 2 strokes clear of the cut line.

The world's No. 1 player and winner of 71 PGA Tour titles has had his least amount of success as a professional at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, where he has just four top-10 finishes and only one victory, which came in 2001. After that win, he did not place among the top 10 again until last year, when he was eighth.

Woods did have a few frustrating moments. His tee shot on the par-4 14th hole was so poor that it landed in a water hazard that is part of the 12th hole. That led to a double-bogey 6.

"I tried to stop," Woods said of the 3-wood he hit off the tee. "I got to the point where I was actually past that point and couldn't stop anymore."

That followed a bogey at the par-5 11th that was the result of a poor drive and then consecutive birdies. After the double, Woods birdied the 15th and 16th holes, bogeyed the first, birdied the second and then parred his final seven holes.

"I wasn't quite as sharp as I was yesterday," he said. "I was just kind of outside that birdie-able range with my iron shots. I was just hitting the ball 20 feet every hole. ... Overall I felt like I hit it not quite as good as I did yesterday. I putted better, but unfortunately I was just a little bit too far way from the holes."

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.