It might be a minor miracle that Tiger Woods is even playing the Masters but there will be no major miracle in the form of a sixth Green Jacket on Sunday.
On a Saturday afternoon almost cold enough to cause frostbite at Augusta National, Woods’ creaky 46-year-old body literally limped to a six-over-par 78 that in the big scheme mattered not one iota.
Though last February’s vehicle rollover that left him with serious multiple right leg fractures has clearly affected his swing, it was ironically a cold putter that brought Woods undone.
He three-putted no fewer than six times, though a couple of those were from just off the green, and four-putted once, mostly after misjudging his first attempts from long range in whipping winds.
“I just had zero feel for the greens and it showed,” said the 15-times major champion, managing to crack a smile.
“As many putts as I had, you’d think I’d have figured it out somewhere along the line, but it just didn’t happen.
“It’s just like I hit a thousand putts out there on the greens today. Obviously it’s affected the score. You take those away and I have normal two putts, I made even par for the day.”
In contrast to his putting, Woods’ long game was really solid, his backswing and follow-through a little shorter since his rollover, a trusty little fade keeping the ball under control in the wind.
“I did what I needed to do ball striking-wise, but I did absolutely the exact opposite on the greens,” he said.
Woods on Friday addressed how his swing had been affected by the leg injuries, which were sustained not long after he had undergone the fifth back surgery of his career. read more
“The ankle is always going to be an issue, but more importantly, if I play golf ballistically, it’s going to be the back,” he said.
“It’s fused. It’s the levels above and below that are going to take the brunt of (the force of the swing). I already had back issues going into this, and now this kind of just compounds it a little bit.”
Woods started the day equal 19th, nine strokes behind halfway leader Scottie Scheffler, and will go into Sunday’s final round at seven-over 223, making up the numbers.
But the battle has already been won firstly by rehabilitating his body well enough even to compete, and secondly by making the cut.
“Hopefully I feel a little more limber than I did today and get it going and putt a little better,” he said.