If you’ve been pining for loads of Tiger Woods golf during the offseason, Friday was a proper day for you. Big Cat played his entire first round and much of his second (which started 30 minutes after he ended his first because of inclement weather on Thursday). Following a bizarre 1-under 70 in Round 1, Woods played 12 holes of his second round in even par and is nine shots back of the lead.
Let’s take a look at his day.
Front nine R1 (even-par 35): Woods got off to an unremarkable start with a par at the easy par-5 first hole, and it looked as if he was headed for another missed cut after bogeys at Nos. 3 and 7, both of which came on three-putts. He started cranking at No. 8, though, with a birdie-birdie finish on the front.
Back nine R1 (1-under 35): The birdie barrage continued on the back nine as Tiger went birdie-birdie to start that nine. Another three-putt bogey at No. 12 quelled the excitement, though, and Woods followed it with another (a fourth!) three-putt bogey at No. 17. The 70 he shot was fine, but the way he struck it … that number should have been a lot better.
First 12 holes R2 (even par): Woods played in the toughest conditions late on Friday after a short break between rounds, and he made a pair of bogeys on the final three holes of the back nine (where he started). An eagle at the first turned things for a brief minute, though, and got him to 3 under overall. But two bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3 to end his day left him at 1 under overall and nine back of leaders Justin Thomas and Adam Scott. He flipped his play in the afternoon as he putted out of his mind to make up for some poor shots.
What went well: His swing looked phenomenal early. Woods was seventh in the field from tee to green in the first round, and it showed. His fluidity, timing and effortlessness all stood out to me in a way they definitely did not last year at this event. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising given that we’re now over a year into this latest comeback, but I couldn’t help but be in awe by some of the iron shots and turned over drives Tiger hit on Friday at Riviera. It did not look like a course that flummoxed him throughout last year’s tournament.
What went poorly: I’m pretty sure finishing 134th in putting in Round 1 is not good. Also, he seemed to wear down as the day went on and the swing I saw early faded a little bit.
Shot of the day: The eagle on No. 1 (his second ever) was from way downtown.
Stat of the day: Woods legitimately should have shot a 65 in Round 1 given that he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation! His four three-putts started an average of about 40 feet from the hole. An easy distance on PGA Tour courses? No, but you certainly shouldn’t three-putt four times on soft greens like we saw at Riviera on Friday.
Where he stands: Woods is T55 and teetering on the cut line, which seems crazy. This is a big boy event, though, and if you’re off at all, Riviera will expose you in a huge way.
What’s next: Woods isn’t on the wrong side of missed cut like last year quite yet, but he’s got some work to do early on Saturday to keep things that way. A hot finish early on Saturday when they restart at 10 a.m. ET would certainly help.