Woods off his game at Memorial


Tiger Woods watched anxiously, bent at the waist, as his final approach shot fluttered in the wind and flirted with a pond guarding the green.

The ball found land, safe by a couple of feet. But he still finished with a bogey on No. 9, his last hole — a fitting end to a frustrating day.

“It’s a little rough out there,” he said. “It’s not that hard to make bogeys and doubles on this golf course. Miss the ball in the wrong spot, get the wrong gust, and it’s tough. We had a few shots in our group that ended up in some interesting spots.”

Woods certainly is in unaccustomed territory going into the weekend at one of his favorite events. The five-time winner and defending champion has chewed up Muirfield Village during his career. But during the second round of the Memorial tournament Friday, the course bit back.

His short game failed him. He continually mishit flop shots, and though he’s statistically the best putter on the tour, the wand wasn’t working.

The world’s top-ranked player stumbled to a 74 and is tied for 46th at 1-over-par overall, 10 shots behind overnight leader Bill Haas. The second round was interrupted twice by storms, and play was suspended at 7 p.m. with about a third of the field still on the course.

Woods had shot par or better in 42 of his previous 45 rounds at Muirfield, and his 36-hole total of 145 is his worst showing since 1997.

The massive gallery following his group, which also included Fred Couples (70-75) and Keegan Bradley (71-74), seemed primed to let out full-throated roars. But with the threesome flummoxed by swirling winds and diabolically fast greens, the decibel level was more like something you’d find at a book reading.

Woods, who has won four times in seven starts this year, is first on the tour in par-5 scoring, averaging 4.36 per hole. But he double-bogeyed the reachable 15th. After a perfect drive, he left his second shot on a mound by the green, pitched past the pin into the rough and just missed his birdie chip.

His six-footer to save par lipped out and kept rolling, finally stopping seven feet away. He missed that, too.

He was 2-under on the hole after two rounds last year. This week, he’s 3-over.

Still, he wasn’t unhappy with his ball-striking.

“I missed (the green) by a foot on the 10th hole and had a couple other ones that were missed by a yard here or a yard there. And on a golf course like this, you get penalized,” he said.

Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 2 player, is moving in the other direction. After opening with a 78, he was 4-under on his second round through 14 holes. At 2-over, he likely will be around for the weekend. The projected cut is 3-over.

New addition: The 31-year-old Haas, who shot 66 for a three-stroke lead, took the last two tournaments off while to help his wife with their first child, son William.

Becoming a father has given him a new perspective. Well, sort of.

“Part of me thought I wasn’t going to get mad at the golf course anymore, but that first bogey I made, I caught myself getting angry,” he said.

“But there’s a lot more important things going on. Maybe I’m just a little quicker now at rebounding from being mad.”

Going home: Dustin Johnson (73-76), Webb Simpson (75-76), Nick Watney (82-77) and 14-year-old Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang (72-79) all missed the cut.

Also in danger of making early exits are Brandt Snedeker and Lee Westwood, who were 6-over when play was halted.


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