First things first: Tiger Woods is going to make the weekend at the British Open. For a guy who’s missed four of his last five major cuts, that counts as an accomplishment; let’s not think about what used to be.
In wet conditions, Woods played some reasonably solid, if not spectacular, golf on Friday at Carnoustie Golf Links, rumbling home in another chaotic up-and-down even-par round for an even-par week. All too often, Woods was in recovery mode, playing defense and trying to clean up mistakes rather than challenging the course and charging up the leaderboard.
The problems started with Woods’ opening holes. After parring the first, he drifted wide on the second, and ended up in a situation where he needed to fire a shot right over the gallery. It didn’t go so well:
Woods bogeyed the second and third holes, but then managed birdies on the next two holes to get himself back to even on the day and on the week. He spent the rest of the round parring his way around the course, with the occasional offsetting birdies and bogeys. His best chance for a low number came on 14, when he faced a 15-footer for eagle that would have put him into the top 10 at the time. But his putt came up just short on the wet, soft greens. And he slid a birdie putt on 18 just past the hole, another unforced error that will sit with him overnight.
“It was a test, but I have to say the fairways were a lot easier to hit today,” Woods said. “Yesterday was a little more defensive. Today we could be a little more offensive, which was nice.”
The cut line stood at +2 and lower when Woods finished up, meaning that the weekend is a definite. And up ahead on the leaderboard, Kevin Kisner and Zach Johnson weren’t quite running away; the leaders stood at -6 when Woods finished up. Woods has said this is his best chance to win a major, and given the somewhat diminished expectations of 2018 Tiger, this is about as good an opportunity heading into the weekend as we could reasonably expect.
In the post-scandal, pre-injury days of the early 2010s, Woods failed to close majors not because of lack of skill, but because he always seemed to fall apart on Saturdays. We’ll see if he’s able to buck that trend when the weekend begins at Carnoustie.
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