Friday, August 3, 2012
Tiger Woods cards 72 at Bridgestone
By Bob Harig
AKRON, Ohio -- A venue that used to be so friendly is not nearly as favorable to Tiger Woods these days.
Woods used to treat Firestone Country Club like his personal playground, winning seven times in 10 appearances with no finish worse than fourth. But of late, the results have been far from those dominating days.
Perhaps that is why a round of 72 on Friday looks so miserable next to Woods' name at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
For the ninth time in his past 10 rounds at Firestone, Woods shot in the 70s at the site of the World Golf Championship event. In the 10 years prior to 2010, he had shot a total of 11 rounds (out of 44) in the 70s, with the worst a 72.
"I hit it good, made nothing, and we can all go eat now," was Woods' sarcastic way of summarizing his second round, which left him a whopping 13 strokes back of tournament leader Jim Furyk.
Woods again attributed his scores to poor putting. After needing 33 putts on Thursday, Woods added 29 on Friday -- but hit just 10 of 18 greens in regulation. He three-putted the seventh green -- his 16th -- from 5 feet, and his one-putt greens were mostly for pars.
He made just two birdies on the day. One of them came on the eighth hole, where Woods said he finally figured something out with his stroke. "But too little, too late," he said. "I'm sure it helped on that little 1-and-a-half-foot tap-in on the last hole."
Although he is well out of contention -- Woods is tied for 45th in the 78-player field -- this is very much unlike his struggles of the past two years at Firestone.
In 2010, Woods was playing for the last time without an instructor (Sean Foley started working with Woods the following week at the PGA Championship) and was truly at the bottom as part of his comeback. He tied for 78th and shot his worst scores ever at Firestone -- 74-72-75-77.
Last year the tournament was his first after a lengthy layoff because of injury, his first competitive rounds since he withdrew from the Players Championship after just nine holes in May. After an opening-round 68, Woods shot 71-72-70 to finish tied for 37th. He then missed the cut a week later for the first time in the PGA Championship.
So his 70-72 start this year is nothing like the past two years, and yet a bit surprising given that Woods' game has come a long way since then. He's won three times this year, risen to second in the world rankings and is coming off a third-place tie at the Open Championship.
"I'm playing well, that's the thing," he said. "I'm hitting it well. I'm making nothing. Certainly I didn't hit it good enough to be 11-under par (Furyk's score), but I certainly hit it good enough to be right there in the top five going into the weekend, no problem at all.
"Yesterday I was 3 under through 11. If I would have just kept that pace up through the end of yesterday and into today, I'm fine. But I didn't do that."
Woods acknowledged that his putting has been an issue through this year.
"I get in these little spells where it's hot or cold," he said. "Generally I was a decent putter over the years, but lately it's been very streaky, I'm making everything or I make nothing."