Spieth was more Tiger-like than Tiger

January 24, 2014

(Getty Images photo)

SAN DIEGO -- It was all too familiar for Tiger Woods, putts routinely finding the hole with authority, as though willed to do so. Yet he was not replicating the past, only recalling it.

Jordan Spieth, golf's reigning wunderkind, played alongside Woods on Friday and jogged his memory with a round of nine-under par 63 on the North Course at Torrey Pines to take the 36-hole lead in the Farmers Insurance Open.

"The kid's got talent," Woods said after his own unremarkable round of one-under par 71 that left nine strokes in arrears of Spieth. "He hits it a long way and is a phenomenal putter. He made a boatload of putts today from the 10 to 20-foot range and that's on poa greens. That's not easy to do. But he was pouring them in there. He had speed to them, too. He had enough speed to get through it [the bumpy poa annua] and he putted with a lot of confidence."

It was vintage Tiger, though vintage 1999. On this day 15 years later, Woods struggled on a course willing to surrender low scores. For the second day in a row, he was unable to birdie any of the par 5s, the holes that are the gateway to low scores on the North.

"I was a yard off, a foot off, all day," he said. "And it was one of those frustrating rounds, because balls were landing in the fairway, running a foot in the rough, and then I couldn't be aggressive, couldn't get after some of these flags.

"I just could not get anything going because of it, and then when I did have an opportunity to get something going, I stubbed my foot by three-putting twice out there."

Woods, who has won this event eight times, won't concede that a ninth is now out of the question. "I've done it before," he said. "If you remember '99 I went and shot 62-65. I was on the 10th tee there [in the third round] and I think I was second to last off, something like that, and went out and got hot and ended up beating Billy Ray Brown on the last hole."