As if anyone, particularly Tiger Woods, needed a reminder that there are no guarantees in golf, Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational provided one.
Woods, who arrived at Bay Hill this week on what felt like a wave of suddenly inflated outside expectations, had a relatively flat second round, shooting an even-par 72 that left him seven shots behind co-leaders Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.
Coupled with his opening-round 68, Woods is tied for 17th place in his fifth event this season but he dropped 10 spots on the leaderboard.
“Today was a hard fight,” Woods said. “It was a grind. It wasn’t sharp, but I hung in there and just kept grinding away and chipped away at the golf course.
“I didn’t hit the ball close, I didn’t hit the ball well, but I was just hanging in there, hanging in there and just try not to shoot myself out of the tournament, just keep myself in the tournament. I thought something in the red would be great and I just wasn’t quite able to do it, but came close.”
In fact, Woods rallied a bit on the back nine, shooting 2-under par coming in with birdies on both par 5s after an opening nine that included bogeys on the first and ninth holes with no birdies.
Woods hit 10 greens in regulation but didn’t give himself many short-range birdie putts. Perhaps the highlight of his round was a par save at the 15th hole where he was forced to play a bunker shot while standing outside the hazard, then holed a 22-foot par putt.
“Today was just a bad day,” Woods said. “I didn’t really feel all that comfortable with a lot of my motion today. It wasn’t sharp, it wasn’t crisp, and I think it was contagious in the whole group. We all mishit a lot of golf shots today in our group. But we all hung around and we grinded out a score.”