Tiger Woods was two-under par for the day through three holes, and it appeared as if he was about to blitz Augusta National like we’ve seen him do so many times. Instead, he put himself in serious jeopardy down the stretch of missing the cut.
He pushed shots to the right, and, just like yesterday, he pulled shots to his left. He missed shots both long and short, and had the principles of gravity not been tried and tested, he probably would have missed shots up too. As in, out of this atmosphere. That’s how off Tiger Woods was on Friday at Augusta.
The problems that seemed to manifest between Tiger’s ears and spread rapidly like a cancer to his limbs broke down the swing he spent so long building up — 30 months to be exact. Now, Tiger will need some sort of drastic and expansive swing treatment to fix whatever it is that ails him. Paging Dr. Foley.
Yesterday, after a round plagued by a wayward driver, the treatment was several hours on the range, but the cure for whatever it was that went wrong on Friday will be far more complicated. Tiger fought epic battles with his driver, his mid-irons and his putter on the day, and on No. 16, the short game that had bailed him out on so many occasions through the first two days at Augusta also threatened to derail his efforts.
A plugged bunker shot ran through the green and nearly plunged back down the slope and into the water hazard in front of the green. Tiger almost holed his chip to make par and was probably lucky to have walked away with bogey. However, that set the stage for Woods to wrestle with his swing long enough to hold on and make the cut. It would be Hell in a Cell.
His tee shot on No. 17 found the right rough and he had to hit a soaring approach over a tree just to put his ball off the front right edge of the green, leaving yet another difficult up-and-down for par. He chose to putt up the massive slope and was able to save his par, which left him at three-over, with the cut lingering closer than comfort at five.
With Woods needing a double-bogey or better to limp into the weekend, Tiger hit one of his better tee shots of the day down the left hand side of the 18th fairway and left himself a decent angle to a right-front flag. However, once again Tiger’s swing taunted him, grabbing into the grass and catching the ball heavy, coming up well short of the green in the front-left bunker.
Tiger knocked his bunker shot stiff and was able to save par, making the cut and smiling widely on his way into the clubhouse. But he was dragging a critically wounded swing behind him, with the promise of a potentially great round outweighing the relief of surviving into the weekend.
It may be too early to declare Tiger’s Masters dead — if anyone is capable of overcoming an eight shot deficit, it’s Tiger Woods — but it certainly needs resuscitation.
Paging Dr. Foley.