Tiger Woods stumbles, shoots 75

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Maybe the best thing you can say about the drop-kicked club on the 16th hole Friday was that Tiger Woods didn't hurt himself doing it. That would have about summed up the day.

Woods didn't inflict injury, at least not physically.

But there's no doubt the loss of composure is something Woods will have to live down, amid all the other scrutiny he endures.

It wasn't pretty during the second round of the Masters for Woods, and perhaps the bigger surprise is that he didn't lose his cool to that degree earlier. Less than two weeks after he was so impressive in winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods seemed lost, confused as he traversed the hallowed grounds at Augusta National, where he has won four times.

Woods shot an ugly 75, failed to birdie any of the par-5s, and was cursing himself throughout the round. After months of solid play, it was as bad as anything witnessed since a poor performance at the PGA Championship in August, where Woods missed the cut in a major championship for just the third time.

"I have it in stretches,'' he said in a brief interview session afterward. "I get into streaks where it's really good and then I lose it for a little bit. That's obviously very frustrating.''

Where Woods really lost it was on the par-3 16th, hitting his tee shot into the right greenside bunker. Angered, he dropped the club to the ground, then kicked the 9-iron with his right foot 10 yards backward on the tee. Woods has been known to utter profanity, slam clubs, even throw them. But kicking one seemed to be new.

"I think we can officially say Tiger has lost his game ... and his mind,'' said CBS-TV analyst Nick Faldo on the ESPN broadcast.

"Well, it's a simple 9-iron. It's not that hard,'' Woods said. "Just a three-quarter 9-iron, hold it against the slope. It's a very easy golf shot, and I hit just a -- I laid the shaft down and stuck it to the right just like I did on [No. 15]. I had a 4-iron in there and -- the 4-iron probably ticked me off more than the 9-iron because I can hit that ball 50 yards left of that flag and still be fine, but the only thing I can't do is hit it right of the hole, and what do I do? Put it right of the hole.

"So that was very frustrating.''

No doubt. Woods, after birdieing the first and third holes, failed to birdie any of the par-5s -- just the third time in his Masters career he's gone a round without doing so. He bogeyed both par-3s on the front, as well as the ninth.

Things got no better on the back nine. He bogeyed the 11th and 16th holes, made no birdies and finished with the second-highest score as a pro at the Masters.

"Just a struggle today,'' said Woods' caddie, Joe LaCava -- the former caddie for tournament co-leader Fred Couples. "We're going to work on it and hopefully tomorrow get better.''

Woods hit just 7 of 18 greens -- two weeks after leading the field in greens in regulation at Bay Hill -- and is tied for 50th in the field through 36 holes. His driving accuracy -- on some wide fairways -- is tied for 62nd, as Woods has hit only 14 of 28.

"It's just not feeling good about your move,'' Woods' coach, Sean Foley, said just before Woods got to the driving range to work on his game after the round. "And it's playing Augusta. But I haven't talked to him yet.''

Woods and Foley worked on the range from approximately 7:40 p.m. ET until 8:20 p.m. ET, still hitting balls in the dark. The work was mostly with the irons, although Woods did pull out his driver at the end. Foley was not available afterward.

On Thursday, Woods said he had lapsed into some old habits. He described it as using the "Hank backswing and the new downswing,'' a reference to his old coach, Hank Haney -- who recently wrote a controversial book about his time with Woods called "The Big Miss.''

Woods had several missed drives on Thursday, but Friday seemed to be a combination of everything. Poor driving, poor iron play, poor chipping. On the par-3 fourth hole, Woods left a 5-foot par putt a foot short -- although he generally putted fine.

"I've been working hard on my short game, and I think what Sean I have been talking about is I think that might have crept into my takeaway of my full swing, and unfortunately it's just not quite consistent,'' he said. "It's not what it was at Bay Hill and prior tournaments.''

Woods was calm in his brief comments with reporters afterward, and suggested he could get back into the tournament with a solid day on Saturday. His 36-hole total of 147 left him eight strokes back of leaders Jason Dufner and Couples. It was just his third round of par or worse this year on the PGA Tour. He is tied for 40th.

In order to win a fifth green jacket, Woods would have to buck some long history. Jackie Burke has the biggest comeback after 36 holes at the Masters -- eight strokes in 1956. Only two winners -- Charl Schwartzel (12th) last year and Jack Nicklaus (17th) in 1986 -- have come from outside of the top 10 in the last 26 years.

But last year Woods made up seven strokes on the final day, forging a tie for the lead through nine holes before finishing tied for fourth.

"I can do this,'' he said. "I've just got to be patient. Obviously I've got to cut that deficit down tomorrow with a good, solid round and then get off to a quick start on the front nine on Sunday and see where that puts me.''

Just as a victory at Bay Hill should not have suggested a win at the Masters, one poor round should also not signal disaster.

Still, it was hard to see this coming. Woods had played well for most of the year. His performance at Bay Hill was impressive, where he was hitting the ball farther and straighter, which are recent trends. His misses, in general, were far more manageable.

During the final round, his score of 70 was bettered by just two players, both 68s shot earlier in the day.

What happened? Did the swing suddenly go bad this week? In practice last week?

"It was happening just a little bit -- even at Bay Hill,'' he said. "It was happening, but I was able to rectify it and maybe hit one or two shots like that and then straighten it out and be fine. Here, unfortunately it's just carrying over to more than that.

"I know what to do, it's just a matter of doing it. That's the frustrating part because I'm still creeping into my old tendencies. I've just got to stay patient with it and keep doing the reps and eventually it'll become where it's second nature.''

Woods will tee off Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m. ET with defending Masters champion Schwartzel. Having seemingly kicked away his chance at winning, he will head out four hours before the leaders.

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