Tiger Woods was on a roll in his second round Friday at The Barclays, going 3-under through five holes -- and then he bounced a golf ball off another danged flag stick.
Woods, who was bogey-free through 24 holes in his opening two rounds at Liberty National and had made three birdies in the first five holes of his second go-round, hit driver off the tee at the par-4 seventh. He immediately showed displeasure with the result of his first big club of the day when he dropped the bat after his swing, which slammed his ball into a left fairway bunker.
With his second shot ending up next to Matt Kuchar’s in a swale fronting the green, Woods watched his playing partner putt his ball up the slope and past the hole. Eschewing the flat stick, Tiger rehearsed a flop shot several times, took dead aim, and clanged his ball off the metal.
While Kuchar rolled in a par putt, Tiger’s first bogey of the week ensued, and all momentum for the world No. 1 came to a screeching halt. The stakes are certainly not as high and there was no improper drop or penalty shot, but observers could not help but remember that Friday at the Masters, when Woods’ ball ricocheted off the pin on the par-5 15th, effectively ending his chase for a 15th major title.
With tee shot after tee shot finding fairway and green-side bunkers after the flag stick incident on this Friday, Woods played the next six holes of his abbreviated round in 1-over, a spate of golf that included an expletive-deleted response (cue the broadcast prudes, whose tender ears seem to bleed only when Tiger drops an f-bomb) to a poor wedge shot from the sand at the par-3 11th that left him some 50 feet from the pin.
I'm not sure which is worse, Tiger Woods incessant cursing or Rich Lerner going the full Joe Buck about it.— Charles Boyer (@TheOldManPar) August 23, 2013
An indifferent putt up the hill set up about a five-footer, which Woods plugged for a second consecutive bogey, dropping him back to 4-under, where he began the day, and five behind the clubhouse leader at the time, Webb Simpson. (Gary Woodland, thanks to a second-round 7-under 64, which he posted just as the sun was setting, has since joined Simpson atop the scoring at Liberty National.)
Woods finally got back on the birdie bandwagon when he drilled a short putt for a four on No. 13, amazingly his first bird of the week on a par-5. After teeing off on the par-3 14th and hearing the horn sound at 7:46 p.m. ET, signaling a suspension in play due to darkness, Woods, Kuchar, and the third member of the marquee trio, Brandt Snedeker, decided to defer their next shots until Saturday morning.
In the meantime, Kuchar made a charge up the leaderboard, firing a flawless 5-under to get to 10-under, while Snedeker winced in pain from what appeared to be a sore back midway through the round and seemed on his way, at 2-over, to missing the cut, which Friday night was projected to fall at even par.
Kuchar, second to Woods in FedExCup points to start the week, streaked to the head of the field on the strength of five birdies in eight holes starting on the sixth, a run that included three straight birdies between Nos. 8-10.
As for the rest of the guys, it was just a ho-hum day for Keegan Bradley, who fired your everyday 63, which set the course record and more than made up for the out-of-bounds, double-bogey finish to his opening round.
"I hit a ball out‑of‑bounds on the last hole this morning, and it was just brutal and decided that I was going to prove to myself that that wasn't how I'm going to end this tournament," Bradley told reporters after smashing the track record that Rickie Fowler, playing two groups in front of the 2011 PGA champ, had matched earlier in the day. "So I decided to go out and just let it go, and I really seemed to play well on that second 18."
Bradley, winless this season, enters the weekend at 7-under along with Fowler, Adam Scott (66), and Justin Rose (4-under for the day after 14 holes in Friday’s second round).
"Obviously not winning [in 2013] is disappointing," said the three-time PGA Tour victor. "But I’m putting myself in position."
Former No. 1, Rory McIlroy, who put his roller-coaster even-par first round behind him with a birdie barrage that got him to 5-under through 16, is also in the hunt heading into the weekend.
Woods et al will continue their second rounds at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, with threesomes going off two tees for the third round after the cut. Tiger will begin his weekend looking to make about a 10-footer for birdie on No. 14.