The Players: Tiger Woods slips out of contention after poor start
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 16/03/19 8:49pm
Tiger Woods was disappointed at not taking advantage of a "gettable" TPC Sawgrass course as he stumbled to a level-par 72 at The Players Championship.
Woods was nine off the lead overnight, although he could have been at least three shots better placed following his quadruple-bogey at the 17th in the second round, when he could have dropped on the path to the green and given himself a chance to save par.
The 43-year-old knew he needed to go low on "Moving Day" to have any chance of contending for a third victory at Ponte Vedra Beach, but he effectively took himself out of contention with two bogeys over the first three holes and another dropped shot at the eighth.
But he was pleased with his resolve on the inward half as he pulled a shot back at the 12th and then followed a birdie at 16 with another from two feet at the 17th, where he left the green amid much laughter with playing-partner Kevin Na after some high jinks over their short putts for matching twos.
WATCH: Tiger's trouble at 17
Two balls in the water led to a quadruple-bogey seven and ruined Woods' good early work on day two
"I fought hard on the back nine and I just wish I had been able to put that same score on the front nine, then I would have got myself near that lead," said Woods afterwards.
"A few guys are taking advantage of it, so it's definitely gettable, it's definitely doable. The golf course is different, but it's still soft, and you have some birdie opportunities out there for sure.
"I just struggled with the green speeds being so much slower. I was a little bit surprised they were that slow. I probably made the mistake of putting yesterday afternoon a little bit, when they were dry, crusty and quick. But I came out this morning and we were surprised at how slow they were on the putting green.
"So we thought they might be a little faster on the golf course, maybe throw a little SubAir on them out there, but they didn't do that. They were slow, the grain was affecting it a little bit more and I struggled hitting the putts hard enough.
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"But we kind of fought back a little bit. I got it back to even par. I thought that was a good goal after being three over through eight and I just fought hard. I fought to the very end and I was able to post even par for the day."
Woods also admitted he could have saved himself the indignity of putting a second ball in the water on the 17th on day two, when it transpired he did not have to pay a visit to the drop zone.
"I talked to David Duval it last night and I didn't realise that, where my ball had crossed," he said. "I thought it had crossed on the green and just hopped over the back and that was it, just go right to the drop area.
"I ended up seeing Li Haotong do the same thing, he hit the ball same spot as I did, dropped it back in the drop zone and went about playing his hole. And unfortunately I just didn't know that where the ball had crossed. There's no marshals up there and so it is what it is."
Woods also appears unlikely to return to Tampa next week for the Valspar Championship, where he finished runner-up to Paul Casey last year, hinting that he will compete in the following week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Dallas.
"I'm guaranteed to play three rounds in a couple weeks and so that's basically like a tournament and we'll see from there," he added. "The whole idea is I'm not going to play as much as I did last year, that was an awful lot, and plus I kept qualifying for events last year.
"I missed the cut in LA, added Tampa, qualified for the WGC-Bridgestone, these are all things that transpired last year trying to work my way back up into the World Golf Championships, the majors, and the Playoffs."