SAN FRANCISCO — The sun was going down, and Tiger Woods undoubtedly wanted to get out of the dank, cool air Friday evening at TPC Harding Park.
Instead, he went to the putting green.
After a frustrating day on the greens, with several missed opportunities that might have seen him in contention had he converted, Woods needed some work.
He briefly flirted with the 36-hole cut before finishing with a score of 2-over-par 72, 8 shots back of PGA Championship leader Li Haotong and in a tie for 44th place.
“I really struggled with getting the speed of the greens today,” said Woods, who completed 36 holes at 140, even par. “They looked faster than what they were putting. They were firm coming into the greens, but they weren’t putting as fast as they looked, and then as the day wore on, they got a little more fuzzy and got even slower, and I struggled even a little bit more hitting the putts hard enough.”
If there is one thing that has vexed Woods over the years it is greens that are slower than he is accustomed to playing.
That, in part, led to the putter change this week that saw Woods bench his trusty Scotty Cameron Newport II for a different, longer version of that model. It seemed to work well during his opening-round 68; not so much on Friday.
Woods needed 31 putts, and after holing 114 feet’s worth on Thursday, managed just 49 feet of putts on Friday.
Starting at the first hole, Woods missed a 7-footer for birdie. He had an 8-footer he missed at the fourth, a 10-footer at the fifth and a 15-footer at the seventh.
He bogeyed the ninth when he couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker, missing a 15-footer for par.
His first of two birdies came at the 10th, and he added another at the 16th — a 12-footer, which was his longest of the day. But he missed an 8-footer for par after finding another bunker at the 13th and a missed green at the 15th led to another bogey and a brief thought he could miss the cut.
Over two days, Woods has failed to get up and down out of a bunker in seven tries, five on Friday.
“I drove it great,” he said. “That’s one of the things I wanted to clean up from yesterday. I didn’t do as good of a job yesterday of driving the ball as I needed to.”
Woods hit 9 of 14 fairways but just 11 of 18 greens and wasn’t able to convert the majority of the time when he had his chances.
That means an early tee time Saturday and playing in temperatures not much warmer than what he faced on the putting green Friday night.