CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The more uncomfortable Tiger Woods feels standing over the ball these days, the better he expects to hit it.
That's his new reality as Woods struggles to make Sean Foley's swing second nature and erase the muscle memory of the one he culitvated with Hank Haney.
"It all has to do with my setup," Woods said. "If I get over the golf ball and I feel uncomfortable, I hit it great. It's just that I get out there and I want to get comfortable, and I follow my old stuff, and I hit it awful. All the shots I got uncomfortable on, I just said, 'I'm going to get really uncomfortable and make it feel as bad as it possibly could,' I striped it.
"I know what I need to do, it's just I need more reps doing it."
Those reps will not come at Quail Hollow, though, after Woods shot a 73 on Friday that left him even par for the tournament and one shot shy of the cutline. He only hit six fairways and 14 greens in regulation during the second round but truth be told, the 33 putts may have been the killer as Woods missed just the eighth cut of his career.
"If he holed putts, he'd be in contention," said playing partner Geoff Ogilvy. "He wouldn't be out of the tournament if he'd made putts."
One of those, a 4-footer at the eighth hole, his 17th of the day, powered 3 feet past the pin for par. Had he not misread it, Woods would have been back in red numbers and a glimmer of hope would have been alive.
Woods, on the other hand, pointed to the par 5s. He didn't birdie a single one on Friday and played them just 2 under in the first round.
"You just can't do that, especially when all of them are reachable with irons," Woods said. "I didn't take care of the par 5s, missed a couple other little short ones for birdie, and consequently got no momentum during the round."
Woods did get a pretty lucky break on one of the par 5s Friday, though.
His approach from 261 yards on the fifth hole veered well left into the trees and was never found after a lengthy search. He was given a free drop, though, when Mark Russell, the vice president of rules and competition for the PGA TOUR, talked with spectators and determined that someone must have picked up the ball.
Russell said several fans told him that they saw the ball bounce into an area of trampled down pine needles he called "basically bare ground." People then ran over to the clearing but the ball was nowhere to be found. At the same time, there were no bushes or mulch where the ball could have been lost -- and had that been the case "it would have been a totally different situation," Russell said.
"One gentleman specifically, an older gentleman, told me, I saw the ball hit right here, I saw it bounce, it didn't look like it was going far, and then I saw several people come around and get around the ball where it was going, and the ball was vanished," Russell said. "... Listen, I'm thinking all the time, if you can't find the ball, the ball is lost. But based on the evidence we had, somebody must have picked the ball up the way I see it."
Had the ball been lost, the penalty would have been stroke and distance. Instead, Woods dropped where the ball was thought to have landed, chipped on and two-putted from 27 feet for par.
"A gentleman saw the ball land and roll, and another gentleman verified he saw the same thing," Woods explained. "There were about five or six people that ran over to the ball, and the next thing you know we get down there and there's hundreds of people and no ball. You saw an area there, there's really nothing there.
"We looked around for a while, and then Mark came over there and analyzed the situation and what was going on. We gave him all the information. The two gentlemen participated in the conversation, and we dropped it as close as we could to where they thought it was picked up. So that was it."
Not that it would have mattered in the final analysis as Woods missed his first cut since the PGA Championship a year ago. It's the second straight cut he's missed at Quail Hollow, where he won the tournament in 2007 and has two other top-4 finishes.
"It's hard to have fun when you're parring the par 5s and you've got an iron into each one," Woods said. "It's a great week. The people come out here and support this event. Everyone has been just absolutely incredible here. This is one of my favorite TOUR stops, and unfortunately I'm just not going to be around for the last two days."
So how will he spend the next few days as he prepares for THE PLAYERS Championship next week? "I'll practice," Woods said firmly.
The Wells Fargo Championship is Woods' second start since he broke a 30-month victory drought at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard two weeks after he shared second at The Honda Classic. He tied for 40th at the Masters, shooting 5 over on a course where he has four victories, and now he's headed home after two rounds in Charlotte.
Woods said he thinks it takes about two years to get comfortable with the new patterns of a significant swing change. After all, he's done it twice now, switching to Haney after a successful run with Butch Harmon so Woods remains upbeat.
"It takes hundreds of thousands if not millions of golf balls, but eventually it comes around," he said. "I've had my share of successes, and I know it's coming."
Just not this week. Not at Quail Hollow.
"It's frustration," Woods said. "I finished, what, 12 back of the lead, and I'm not playing the weekend where I have a chance to compete for a title. I've missed my share of cuts in the past, and they don't feel good."