MEDINAH, Ill. — “I just need to make more putts, there's no doubt about that,” Tiger Woods said Friday at Medinah Country Club, and, boy, truer words were never growled.
Woods carded a second consecutive one-under-par 71 on Friday on Medinah’s No. 3 Course when he deserved so much better. The swing looked even more fluid than the day prior and the stats proved it as he hit 11 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation.
But the number that sticks out like a sore paw is 72.1—the number of feet of putts he converted. And 33 feet of that can be accounted for by his consecutive birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, from 13 and 20 feet, respectively, which got him to three under par for the day and four under for the tournament. Then he missed greens on the next two holes, leading to bogeys, and had to settle for a two-under 142 total.
A return to Atlanta to defend his Tour Championship title took a big hit. But Woods isn’t ready to concede anything. Thirty-six holes remain. It's still doable.
“I'm going to have to have a great weekend and make a lot of birdies this week and post some rounds in the mid-60s to give myself a chance at it,” he said.
And that leads back to getting the putter going. It says a lot when he missed only five greens and suffered four bogeys. He had 30 putts in all, one more than he needed on Thursday. “I left quite a few shots out there,” Woods said. “I hit the ball a lot better today, which is great, and didn't really make anything until, what is it, 14, 15?”
Once again, his long game was far superior to his short game.
“That would be about right,” he said, “[but] trying to get a feel for the trajectory and shapes of shots and my feel has not been where I want it, [haven’t] hit the ball pin high every time like I normally do. I certainly haven't made as many putts. Putt well and I'll shoot good scores. I haven't done that.”
The other positive is his health. Clearly, his rehab from last week's oblique strain is going well. He is swinging more freely and with notable precision—despite limited reps.
“I’m feeling much better. What I was going through last week wasn’t very good,” Woods told GolfTV. “I’ve rested up, and I’m trying to make some tweaks and trying to get my swing a little bit more like I had it earlier in the year [when he won the Masters], and the hard part is I haven’t been able to practice that much. One of the most difficult things is trying to make adjustments and not being able to hit as many balls as I like, and that how it’s going to be going forward.”