Woods’ injury was most evident when he lined up. Traditionally erased in the famous low tiger allure, this quest has turned into something like a standing start in a distance race. Perhaps that helps explain the number of hits that swelled to 36 on Saturday.
“I’m sure his leg hurts,” said Kisner, who shot the 75. “I mean, I am in pain and I am doing well. So, I hope he can come back here and play several more events with us soon.”
Woods accumulated 21 strokes with his first 11 holes, coming out twice on the inside by 3 feet while clocking 3 strokes and 4 strokes in that span. He finally rolled a note on the 12th par-3 hole, and his 14-foot drop dribbled off a bird’s right lip. But that left him 13 rounds behind leader Scotty Scheffler.
He finished his day three times in a row for a total of 19 in the inner nine.
“I hit a thousand players on the grass today,” Woods said. “I just couldn’t feel. … the texture, the feel, my right hand, my release, I couldn’t find it. I was trying different things, trying to find something, trying to get something, practicing the hits and just trying to feel the swing and head Racquet, I try to get nothing, and nothing works.
“As many hits as I had, you’d think I would have figured it out somewhere along the line, but it just didn’t happen.”
Had Woods’ metal clubs treated him kindly on a Saturday, he could have made a big charge to one of the most discreet crowds of fully attended professors. Woods’ driver, who betrayed him on his way to second turn 74, was not only tracking, but vaguely similar to the previous Bombshells from Tiger lore. He was a 5-for-5 on the highway and averaged 322 yards with the first five drivers hitting him in the front nine, not including the driver who was holed up in No. 8. He hit 11 of 14 on the day, which is a healthy 78.6%.
This was what happened from the fairway in that woods failed. His approach 323 yards from the dead center by car at No. 7 not only came within a short 126 yards, but also came a long way from the bunker guarding the green.
The same thing happened at 11. After perfectly positioning the tee at 315 yards on the right side, Woods climbed seven short yards on the 209-yard approach. He moved three feet away from the green, then exited again from a height of three feet.
“I’ve taken this stuff away and I’ve got a regular ball throw, and I’m probably going to be even on this day,” Woods said. “I did what I needed to do to shoot the ball wisely, but I did the exact opposite on the Greens.”
Woods seemed well amused by the time he reached the amen’s corner. There he regained some of his past glories, at least for a moment. He followed Altaïr at age 12 when he reached 13 out of two to attempt an eagle. He missed it, but the hitch gave him two birds and put him below level on his back. He even put in a great save and shot from the back No. 14.
But this is where the script broke for Old Tiger. He put in despite his decent drive into the 5-15 bar and settled on a par. He had a three-stroke bogey on 16, then added six more flat-stick hits on 17 and 18, the last tap resulted in a triple bogey 7.
Everything was like a tiger too. Except for clap and left 18 green. It was that ancient tiger.
The assembled gallery seems to fully appreciate what the cold bones and ligaments of their reconstructed hero can feel in some brutal conditions.
“I fight every day,” Woods said. “Every day is a challenge. Each day presents its own different challenges for all of us. I get up and start fighting all over again.”