PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA – Sorting through the hows and whys of his missed cut performance at the Genesis Open in the Friday twilight at Riviera Country Club, Tiger Woods didn’t go looking for rainbows.
Or, if he did, Woods didn’t find many.
After a scrambling 72 in the first round, Woods denied himself and his rambunctious gallery the drama of chasing the cut line, stacking up too many dull-edged bogeys as he shot 76 to miss just the 17th cut in his professional career.
Physically, Woods was fine. From a golf perspective, he was flat, chasing too many pulled tee shots into bad spots and never finding the comfort level on Riviera’s greens that carried him three weeks ago in his celebrated return at Torrey Pines.
On a difficult golf course with challenging scoring conditions, Woods looked like someone who’s been away from tournament golf for a long time.
What bothered Woods the most?
“Just the inconsistency of it,” he said, again citing the difference in playing golf at home and returning to tournament golf. After a solid start Friday, Woods made six bogeys in an eight-hole stretch including consecutive three-putt bogeys to wipe out his weekend plans.
Woods hit just 16 greens in two days and despite reverting to an old shaft in his driver, he kept missing fairways to the left Friday and it cost him. He hit just 13 of 28 fairways over two rounds.
“My cut was just not cutting,” Woods said. “I’ve got the weekend off, some more days to work on it.”
Woods committed Friday to play in the Honda Classic next week near his south Florida home, another indication of his solid physical state after missing most of two years with back issues. But PGA National is a severely penalizing course off the tee, particularly if the wind blows as it tends to do there this time of year.
If Woods was discouraged by the result at Riviera, he didn’t acknowledge it.
“I just need to clean up my rounds,” he said.
After spending two days playing with Woods, Rory McIlroy saw reasons for optimism rather than concern.
“He’s very close, very close,” McIlroy said. “Give him a little bit of time. He’s still figuring a few things out with equipment, sort of in between drivers, but he’s close.
“He struggled a little bit more today but he hits enough good shots to know that if he pieces it all together, he’s going to be right there. I think everyone just has to be patient with him, especially him being patient with him and giving himself time. It’s a good thing he’s playing next week just to get back at it.”