Tiger Woods almost achieved the unfathomable on Friday at the Memorial. The five-time winner of Jack Nicklaus’ tourney played much of the day flirting with the cut line on a Muirfield Village Golf Club track he has owned throughout his career.
Thanks to two late birdies on Nos. 5 and 7, and with a bogey-5 at the last, Woods finished a scuffling second round with a 2-over 74. Combined with his opening-round 71, the score put the odds-on favorite to crush the field for his 79th PGA Tour win this week at 1-over for the tourney -- a full stroke north of the projected cut line.
Woods finished his less-than-stellar performance having hit 13 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens, but needing 30 putts, according to GCTigerTracker.
With Golf Channel’s TV coverage slated to start at 2:30 p.m. ET, Woods off the course, and the world’s No. 2 in the afternoon wave, all eyes would likely be on Tiger’s Nike stablemate, who, understandably, expressed frustration over his “big miss” after carding a woeful 78 on Thursday.
“The game just isn't all there at the minute,” Rory McIlroy told reporters before heading to the range for a Thursday afternoon tune-up.
“I'm pretty frustrated. I'm trying not to let it get to me,” he said. “I don't really have many explanations for this. I felt like my game was good. I felt like I was coming in here and hitting the ball well. And I felt like I needed to hole some more putts and things would be okay....Just missed a few too many shots out to the right and that cost me.”
In the meantime, teen sensation Guan Tianlang was well on his way to his second MC on tour. The 14-year-old sponsor invitee, the youngest player ever to make the cut in a major championship, shot an even-par 72 on Thursday but was 6-over through 16 holes in his second round.
Guan missed the cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship earlier this month after playing the weekend at the Masters in April. He made the cuts in this year’s Players Championship and Zurich Classic.
As for Woods, the 14-time major champ entered the tourney on a tear, having won four of the seven tour events he had played this season. He got off to a lackluster start on Thursday, and Friday looked as if it could be a complete disaster after he bogeyed No. 13 (his fourth hole of the day) and carded a double on the par-5 15th.
Woods is competing on a course on which he owns four top-20s in addition to the five Ws, so it really was unimaginable that he would not make it to the weekend. He may be 10 back of Bill Haas, who fired a second-round 67, but for Tiger, at Jack’s place, anything’s possible.