Tiger Woods made five birdies and no bogeys, doubles or triples in his second round at the 2019 Players Championship. Sounds great, right? Well, it wasn’t. That’s because Woodsafter hitting two balls in the water. The result was a 1-under 71 that leaves him at 3 under for the week and five back of the lead at the time he finished. Let’s take a detailed look at Woods’ second round on Friday from TPC Sawgrass.
Front nine (1-over 37): Tiger’s front nine was actually the back nine on the course as he started on No. 10. The story was obviously the 17th, but other than that one hole, Woods played great. Despite his three birdies leading into No. 17, I thought the most important stroke Woods took on that side was a 6-foot par putt on No. 18 right after the quad. He’d hit a bad lag putt and left himself way too much distance for par, but he canned it to right the ship. Very Tiger-like.
Back nine (2-under 34): Woods played a clean second nine (front nine on the course) after the disaster on No. 17. He made birdies at the par-5 No. 2 (which is playing a half stroke under par) and the tougher par-4 No. 7. He had a look at a final birdie on the par-5 ninth hole, but hit a lousy putt and settled for the 1-under 71.
What went well: His putting and chipping continues to look spot on, and he looks much more comfortable, especially with the putter, than he did just a few weeks ago. But on Friday it was his driver that did a ton of the work. On a course where precision is key — and Woods isn’t known for being precise — he finished in the top 10 in strokes gained off the tee, even though he had to pull driver early and often.
What went poorly: This is one interesting case for stats not telling the entire story. Woods lost strokes to the field from tee to green, but if his first shot on No. 17 finds the green, he would have gained three strokes on the field, which means he hit it beautifully the rest of the day — he hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation (but one of those two was devastating to his card). So it’s stats plus actually watching what happened in almost every case, and Woods was lights out from tee to green other than that one hole.
Stat of the day: Tiger lost an almost unfathomable four (!) strokes to the field on his first two full swings on No. 17 on Friday. Remember that if he falls a few short when the dust settles on Sunday.
Where he stands: Woods was outside the top 25 at the time he finished, but at 3 under, he’s an easy lock to play the weekend. It (obviously) could have been so much better, but the bounce back over the final 10 holes from Woods was honestly pretty impressive. He’ll have some big names in front of him, though, including playing partners Webb Simpson (-4) and Patrick Reed (-6).
What’s next: Big Cat is literally one swing from being 7 under and sniffing the lead. One swing! That’s golf, though, and now Woods will have a mid-morning tee time and need something super low on Saturday to have a chance of chasing down the trophy on Sunday afternoon.