|ESPN.com: Sobel||[Print without images]|
PARAMUS, N.J. -- Sometimes golf is a lot like life. One minute you're just cruising along without any worries. The next minute a costly accident sends everything into a complete tailspin.
With that in mind, consider Tiger Woods' second round at the Barclays a metaphor for the past year of his life.
After posting a 6-under 65 on Thursday that left him in a share of the overnight lead, Woods picked up where he left off. Starting on the 10th hole Friday afternoon, he played near-flawless golf for his front nine, finding every fairway off the tee and hitting every green in regulation.
The end result? Seven pars and two birdies, moving him to 8-under and in sole possession of the lead at the turn. He followed with another routine par on No. 1, but calamity was imminent.
On the next hole, Tiger crashed into the proverbial fire hydrant.
After flying the green on the par-3 second hole, Woods' ensuing chip was met by the ill-timed click of a nearby photographer.
"The photographer took a photo on my downswing," he later explained. "Luckily I flinched. I went back on it and threw the club down at the same time to hopefully make contact. Luckily I didn't fat it or blade it, but she timed it well."
His ball stopped 24 feet from the hole, from where he two-putted for his first bogey of the day. And the downslide didn't stop there, either.
Following pars on each of the next two holes, Woods decided to lay up on the 291-yard par-4 fifth. From the fairway, his second shot spun back to the front fringe. Then his birdie effort stopped 21 inches from the hole.
And then ... he missed.
Without marking his ball, Woods lipped out the par attempt from gimme range, for which he later provided an explanation that came across as an elaborate over-analyzation of a simple blunder.
"The ball was sitting in the hole, I could see it," he said. "I was trying to hit up on it and hook it like I normally do. I didn't do it. I blocked it. Exact opposite of what I was trying to do."
Woods posted two more bogeys on the way in, resulting in a 2-over 73 that left him four shots behind leader Jason Day entering the weekend.
"I didn't hit it bad at all. I hit it really good," Woods maintained. "As I said, I didn't putt really well. It goes to show you no matter how good you hit it ... if I don't make putts, I don't make scores."
He speaks the truth. Woods leads the field in driving accuracy so far, hitting 26-of-28 fairways while employing his driver only twice -- and not at all on Friday. Following his 27-putt opening round, though, he took 33 swipes with the flatstick in the second round -- an inconsistency which has plagued his season to date.
Concentrating on the faulty putting stroke, however, underscores the real story of the day.
While it appeared the "old Tiger" was back in form during Round 1, it's now evident that it will take more than the finalization of his divorce to turn things around in his game. He once again looked focused and composed on the course, but simply turning the page in his personal life won't necessarily equate to immediate results.
That doesn't mean he isn't hopeful for the weekend. Woods enters the third round in a share of 14th place and sounded optimistic about his chances going forward.
"A good weekend, you play around here and post good numbers, you'll move up the board," he said. "The guys aren't going to be tearing this place apart."
Woods knows all too well about having things torn apart, whether in life or in golf. The metaphor continued on Friday.
Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.