It was the ultimate grind.
Which Tiger Woods polished off with, perhaps, the shot of the day.
That Tiger settled for a birdie-3? He wanted the two, but the twentysomething-foot eagle didn't cooperate and he finished off his second-round 73 -- he called it one of his best rounds of the year -- just after the horn sounded to end play. The round -- now he gets to sleep in Saturday morning -- leaves him eight shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen going into the weekend.
"It was very difficult out there,'' Woods said. " The ball was oscillating on the fairways. A couple times I backed off. I thought it might move. Rosey (Justin Rose) hit one fat on 3 because he thought it was moving, but it was just oscillating pretty hard. So it was tough out there. You just had to deal with it, and again, just be very patient.''
Woods teed off in the gusting winds and opened the day with two quick bogeys. And that 65-minute wind delay which came when Woods, Rose and Camilo Villegas were playing the first hole.
"We thought it might give us a break, and we might come out there with less wind and have a chance at posting some pretty good numbers; that wasn't the case,'' Woods said. "It was blowing just as hard when we came back out, especially when we got out towards the loop. They were saying it's a hole‑by‑hole scenario. They could call it at any time, but they didn't, even though it was blowing pretty good.
" . . . It was a tough day for everybody out there. Unless you timed the wind just right with your tee times, you were going to get some pretty good wind and usually into your face.''
Woods, who has won the last two Opens played at St. Andrews and three in all, was asked if this was comparable to the third round at Muirfield in 2002 when he shot 81. He said no. That was a rainy and windy day.
"You just have to go out there and deal with it,'' he said, "whether you're on the good end of the draw or not the good end, you just have to go out there and play and gut it out.''
He admitted Oosthuizen and the others who teed off the morning got the best of the conditions, just like Woods and the other morning players did Thursday.
"(Oosthuizen) got it 16 holes downwind,'' Woods said. " We didn't quite get that out there. That's just the way it goes. If you get a good break you have to capitalize on it. He certainly did. For everyone else, we had to grind it out, gut it out. You can have good shots and end up in bad shots, and hit some bad shots and end up in awful spots, it's just that kind of day.''
Woods came into the week searching for consistency, especially on the greens. He switched to the Nike Method putter -- at least for the week -- to deal with these greens. And his game overall?
"I hit the ball well today, a lot of long lag putts,'' he said. "Lag putts were very difficult out there, moving all over the place. Putter was dancing all over the place on the backswing. You had to get anchored somehow and try and stay stable.''
Now Woods heads into the weekend chasing Oosthuizen and Mark Calcavecchia, who is second, five shots off the lead.
"I'm not exactly where I want to be,'' Woods said. "I'm not 12‑under par, but I'm at 4‑under, I'm eight back, and today was a day I could have easily shot myself out of the tournament, especially the start I got off to, but I put it back together again and pieced together a pretty good round.'' -- Melanie Hauser