Five months with out competitors, and Tiger Woods was grinding over key photographs and massive putts Friday on the Memorial. None was larger than a 7-foot par putt on his last gap.
It saved him from going house.
Woods missed a pair of 3-foot putts early that shut down any momentum, twice missed the inexperienced with awkward chip photographs in deep tough and needed to end birdie-birdie-par for a 4-over 76.
It was simply sufficient to make the lower on the quantity at 3-over 147, his highest 36-hole rating at Muirfield Village since his Memorial debut in 1997.
The Memorial, the Masters and the Arnold Palmer Invitational are the one tournaments he has performed a minimum of 15 instances with out failing to make the lower.
Woods mentioned his again felt somewhat stiff whereas warming up and he couldn’t transfer by way of his swing like he would have appreciated. He mentioned it was a battle on a heat, calm morning at Muirfield Village.
But when requested if it was sufficient to maintain him from enjoying the remainder of the week, Woods replied, “I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow.”
Woods was outdoors the lower when he completed, and he was helped by a pair of fellow Californians. Max Homa completed with two bogeys, and Bryson DeChambeau made a 10 on the par-5 15th gap, transferring the lower to three over.
Ryan Palmer (68) and Tony Finau (69) managed simply tremendous and had been tied for the lead, leaving Woods 12 photographs behind going into the weekend.
The end a minimum of gave him an opportunity.
Woods needed to lay up from deep tough wanting the water on the sixth gap — he began on the again 9 — and missed a par putt simply outdoors 5 ft to fall to six over for his spherical. He carried out. He wasn’t transferring nicely, the look of somebody who could be heading house shortly.
But he discovered the golf green on the par-5 seventh and made birdie from a greenside bunker. Then, he rolled in 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-Three eighth. He discovered extra bother on the ninth, sending his tee shot to the fitting, in tough and blocked by timber, leaving his solely choice to chip out to the golf green.
From there, his wedge spun again to 7 ft under the opening and he made that par for to have hope.
“I finished birdie-birdie-par,” he mentioned. “That’s about the only positive to it today.”
He wasn’t positive what to make about his again, which has undergone 4 surgical procedures, the final one to fuse his decrease backbone. He has recovered nicely sufficient to win three extra instances, together with the Masters final 12 months for his 15th main.
Woods final performed Feb. 16 within the chilly at Riviera, the place he completed final within the Genesis Invitational with a 76-77 weekend. He attributed stiffness that week to the chilly. As for Ohio in July?
Woods mentioned he felt tremendous when he awoke, not a lot whereas going by way of his follow periods.
“It wasn’t quite as good as I’d like, and it it what it is,” he mentioned, including later, “It’s going to happen more times than not.”
What actually irritated him was his placing. He three-putted from about 35 ft on the par-5 11th, lacking a 3-footer for birdie. Two holes later, after an excellent play from the tough to proper facet of the inexperienced, he rolled a quick putt to three ft and missed that par putt. And then when he chopped up the par-5 15th for bogey, the remainder of the day turned a battle.
From a fairway bunker proper of the 17th fairway, he despatched his shot excessive on the hill into tough so deep it took him a couple of minutes to search out it. With the greens so brittle, he hit that by way of the placing floor into extra tough, and he needed to make an 8-foot putt to flee with bogey.
Making the flip, Woods had an ungainly lie together with his ball within the collar of a bunker. He caught all ball and despatched that lengthy, by way of the inexperienced and right into a bunker, did not get up-and-down and took double bogey.
His subsequent shot sailed to the fitting towards a hazard, and Woods merely hung his head. He nonetheless managed to have sufficient left on the finish to offer him an opportunity.
Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial, and his subsequent victory would set the PGA Tour profession report of 83. Also looming is the primary main of the 12 months on the PGA Championship in three weeks.
For a 44-year-old who received the primary of his 82 tour titles at age 20, time isn’t on his facet.
“Aging is not fun,” he mentioned. “Early on in my career, I thought it was fantastic because I was getting better and better and better. And now I’m just trying to hold on.”