Quickly, Woods went from being in contention after the first round to in jeopardy of not making the cut. He was 4-over par through the first five holes. He moved from the 1-under par where he started the day to 3-over par just like that.
The first sign came when Woods’ opening tee shot landed in the fairway bunker at No. 1. His approach finished right of the green and he was unable to get up-and-down. -1 to Even.
From there Woods:
No. 2: Saved par from the fairway bunker. Even.
No. 3: Couldn’t get up-and-down after he missed the green from the fairway. Even to +1.
No. 4: Couldn’t get up-and-down after his tee shot landed short and right of green. +1 to +2.
No. 5: Needed to play back into the fairway after his tee shot found the right woods and need two putts after getting on the green. +2 to +3.
“Well, it was windy,” Woods said. “It was swirling. Balls were oscillating on the greens. We got a couple of bad gusts. I hit a couple of bad shots. I hit a decent shot at (No.) 4 that ended up and down in a divot, and it was just like -- there were so many things that were not going my way. It was partly the conditions and partly me.”
This is Tiger Woods. There would be no going gently into that early trip home to watch the rest of the tournament on television. This is Augusta National. Any comeback would not come easy. The roller coaster of a round nearly continued right to the end.
It went down.
No. 8: Got up-and-down from just off the green. +3 to +2.
No. 10: Stopped his approach shot to three feet of the cup for an easy birdie. +2 to +1.
It went up.
No. 11: Couldn’t get up-and-down from just short of the green. From +1 to +2.
No. 12: Couldn’t get up-and-down after his tee shot flew the green and rolled back into the bunker from the azaleas. From +2 to +3.
It went down.
No. 13: Got up-and-down after his second shot finished short of Rae’s Creek for a birdie. From +3 to +2.
No. 14: Made nine-foot birdie putt. From +2 to +1.
From there, Woods parred the final four holes. That matched his par total through the first 14 holes. In all, Woods finished with eight pars, six bogeys and four birdies. Woods at 1-over par (71-74) will be around for the weekend after all. Woods is tied for 19th and finished inside the cutline of 4-over par. He is one of 52 players who made the cut.
“I told (caddie) Joey (LaCava), hey, we got a lot of holes to play,” Woods said. “It’s going to be tough all day, so let’s get it back to even-par for the day somehow. If I can just stay at even-par for the day, I thought that would have been a pretty good comeback. I didn’t quite get there.”
Woods will be significantly behind second-round leader Scottie Scheffler, who shot a 67 and is 8-under par, five strokes clear of the second-place group.
Woods was sore after the opening round. He is even sorer now after two full rounds of navigating the hills of Augusta National. There are plates, rods and pins in his surgically repaired leg. He gets parts from machine shops, for goodness sakes. It’s painful, but Woods will gladly endure for two more days.
“Well, I don’t feel as good as I would like to feel,” Woods said. “That’s okay. As I said, I’ve got a chance going into the weekend. Hopefully I’ll have one of those light bulb moments and turn it on in the weekend and get it done. You’ve seen guys do it with a chance going into the back nine. If you are within five or six going into the back nine, anything can happen. I need to get myself there. That’s the key. I need to get myself there.”
Who is to say where this roller coaster ride will finally come to a stop on Sunday?