PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods’ weekend plans were as unstable as his iron play Friday.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas finally solidified them with a pair of bogeys on the tough par-4 18th at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods made the cut on the number at The Players Championship, but only after getting a little help from two of the top players in the world.
Woods struggled with accuracy and distance control during a steamy day on the Stadium Course. He shot a 1-under 71 to reach 1 under, earning a spot in the third round after some late cut movement.
“I got to shoot something in the probably mid-60s both days to get myself up there to have a chance or something,” Woods said. “Hopefully give myself some more looks. Feel like I’m putting well. I’m just never inside that range which I should be with the irons I’m having.”
With 80 players making the cut at the Players, the field with be trimmed after 54 holes for the second time in two weeks on the PGA Tour.
So Woods has some work to do to stick around Sunday. His first goal will be to play better with his irons. A week after his putter let him down, his approach shots were his biggest problem.
“That’s golf, unfortunately,” Woods said. “If we were able to put all of our facets of the game together, I think there would be a lot more tournament winners out here. But this is just part of the job. We have to figure out a way to put it together, and I have not done that consistently this year so far.”
Woods had seven approach shots of 125 yards or closer, but failed to get any of them inside 15 feet. He ended up making par each time.
“I didn’t quite swing it right today, and I didn’t quite have the shape, ball flight,” said Woods, who made two birdies and a bogey. “I didn’t have much of what I wanted. With these greens as soft as they are, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities I had to really shoot a good number.”
It looked as if Woods would end up missing the cut until those late lapses by Spieth and Thomas.
Spieth pushed his tee shot at the finishing hole into the right rough. He managed to get on the green from there, but missed an 8-footer for par.
Thomas’ approach shot from the second cut found the right rough just short of the green. His chip came up short, and he missed an 18-footer from the fringe for par.
Those miscues were huge for Woods. Spieth and Thomas both moved to 1 under and moved the cut line.
Rory McIlroy (1-over 145), Phil Mickelson (152) and Rickie Fowler (145) were the biggest names missing the cut.
McIlroy doomed his weekend at the famed par-3 17th. His tee shot landed just right of the small pot bunker in front of the green and started spinning back. It barely missed the rake, which would have kept it in play, and plopped into the murky lagoon.
McIlroy had a chance to only lose one stroke, but missed an 8-footer for bogey. He was so upset he dropped his ball and whacked it into the water on a hop.
Mickelson’s troubles happened Thursday, when he went double-bogey-double-double over a four-hole stretch on the back nine and shot a 79. He finished at 8 over after an up-and-down second round that included six birdies, five bogeys and a double.
Fowler was done in by consecutive doubles that started with an errant and unlucky tee shot at the par-4 sixth. Fowler’s ball landed in a palm tree and never came down, prompting a penalty stroke that sent him back to the tee box and left him flustered.
New set of eyes
From the time he started playing golf, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel never had a coach other than his father.
Now that’s changed.
Schwartzel has been struggling with his swing for the last few years, which he attributes to getting into bad positions. That’s what led him to hire Justin Parson.
“My dad used to always look after me,” Schwartzel said. “I just didn’t see him enough, so I employed a coach in November, and it’s really worked out well so far.”
Schwartzel said he was getting the club too far behind, and he could never get it back on line.
“So we have basically taken it back wo where it was in 2011, 2010, when I was playing well,” he said. “So it’s not a new golf swing. It just got lost along the way somewhere.”
Chesson Hadley reached 12-under par for the tournament and only had two holes to play.
They just happened to be the 17th and 18th, the two hardest holes on the course. And it showed.
“I plunged it in the water,” he said of his tee shot on the par-3 17th, leading to a double bogey. “I did not hit the shot the way I wanted to, but I didn’t feel like I hit it bad enough for it not to get to the front of the green or maybe even five steps on the front. So might have caught a gust. I didn’t hit it the way I wanted to, so it is my fault at the end of the day.”
He missed the green on the 18th and took two chips to get on the green, from where he saved bogey with a 5-foot putt.
He still shot 69.
Hadley has six top 10s this year and is at No. 19 in the FedEx Cup. His confidence is as high as ever.
“There’s been stretches of seasons where I’ve been great and exceptional, but so far this year I have been exceptional or above average most weeks, which is great,” he said. “That’s what you want to do out here. I feel like I’ve got my finger on something right now, and hopefully we can ride it forever.”
Three players made quadruple-bogey at the famed 17th in the second round. Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka and D.A. Points each carded a 7 on the tricky, par-3 island green. Finau and Koepka still managed to make the cut. … The closing holes played the hardest, with 18 ranked first and 17 second. … After 24 balls in the water at the 17th in the opening round, 21 found the lagoon in the second round.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
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