SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tiger Woods’ last putt of the day was so much better than his first three.
Woods four-putted No. 1 on Torrey Pines South on Friday, an inauspicious start to his second round at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Playing on a course that has been so good to him over the decades, Woods reached the first green in two and had a birdie putt of just less than 25 feet. He rolled it 30 inches past the hole. His second putt shot 5½ feet past the cup. His third went 14 inches past before he finally tapped in.
“Just poa,” Woods said about the poa annua grass. “I tried to ram it in the hole and it bounced. I hit obviously a terrible third putt, pulled it. The second putt, it’s just what happens on poa. I tried to take the break out and it just bounced.”
Woods recovered with four birdies in five holes spanning the turn, and then sank a 5-foot birdie putt on 18 to finish with a 1-under 71. He was tied for 17th at 4 under heading into the weekend, six shots behind leader Ryan Palmer. Palmer shot a 10-under 62 on the North Course.
Woods has been winning at Torrey Pines since he was a teenager playing in the Junior Worlds. He’s won this tournament seven times and had his epic 2008 U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pines, the municipal course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
At stake this weekend is a chance to set the PGA Tour career victories record with No. 83 on the first course where his father took him to watch a PGA Tour event.
Woods said he’s not thinking about No. 83.
“Shot by shot got me to 82,” said Woods, who tied Sam Snead’s record with a wire-to-wire win at his last tournament, the Zozo Championship in Japan in late October. “It’s one of those things where it’s just a process. It’s a marathon. It’s four days. It’s a long haul. Just trying to be there at the end and you never know what happens at the end.”
Woods earned career win No. 8 here in 1999 after entering the weekend nine strokes behind Ted Tryba.
“I shot 62-65 on the weekend,” he said. “Different golf course, though, than it was then. If you make the cut on the number here, anything can happen on the South Course, especially the way it’s playing now. It’s so much more difficult and I think so much more volatile because of the fact that if you shoot a good round out here on the South, you’ll move up the board.”
Woods shot a 3-under 69 on the easier North Course on Thursday. The weekend rounds are on the South Course.
After his rough start, Woods birdied Nos. 6, 8, 9 and 10 — including two par 5s — before bogeying 12. On the par-4 17th, Woods hit his drive into the canyon and had to take a penalty drop, leading to a bogey. He then birdied the par-5 18th.
“It was a good middle part of the round,” he said. “Not exactly the best of starts, but I figured it out and turned it around. Unfortunately, I made a mistake at 17 that cost me a shot. Good birdie at 18, though.”
He did miss a 28-inch birdie putt on No. 5, and his 2-foot putt for birdie on 14 took a weird turn.
“It’s one of those things where I feel like I was hitting puts on my lines, but they didn’t say on the lines. Just trying to make sure that I had a lot of putts that were uphill that I could take the break out and get it in there.”
The key to the weekend will be “keep driving it the way I’m driving it and make sure I can get the ball below the hole,” he said. “The putts, the greens are quick and they’re bouncy, so that’s a tough combo when you’re above the hole. If you leave it below the hole, take the break out, ram it and take the low line.”
He’ll be playing in front of his normal huge gallery, as well as some familiar faces.
“Well, the people here, probably about 15 or 20 people that I’ve seen pretty much every year and they’ve been out here the last two days,” he said. “It’s nice to have basically like almost a hometown tournament. Here and (Riviera), it’s been amazing throughout the years. A lot of people came out today, which is nice.”
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