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The Tour Report

September 21 2012

7:31 PM

Woods on turnaround: It’s golf

Woods' wild par on No. 14

Tiger Woods gets a lucky bounce off of the grandstands after hitting his 115-yard approach shot and gets up-and-down for par.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

ATLANTA -- Tiger Woods started the second round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola tied for the lead.

But he ended the day at East Lake -- a place he’s ruled like no one since the legendary Bobby Jones walked these same fairways – a distant six strokes off the pace.

While pundits and fans alike will be scouring his statistics to explain another of those good-to-not-so-good turnarounds that seems to have occurred so frequently this year, Woods saw the reason much more simply.

"Golf," he said succinctly.

The 73 was Woods' first above par at East Lake since he shot 72 on the final day of the 2004 TOUR Championship -- a span of 14 rounds. Prior to teeing off on Friday, he was 44 under during that stretch with one win and two runner-up finishes.

"I didn't play very good today," Woods said. "Didn't hit it very good, and definitely didn't putt well. So it was a struggle all day."

From the outset, really. Woods bogeyed his first hole but got that stroke back when he stuck a shot from the fairway bunker at the third hole to 6 feet for birdie. Two more birdies at Nos. 7 and 9, though, were negated by a double bogey at the eighth hole and Woods made four more bogeys on the homeward stretch.

"I'm going to go hit some balls and putt for a while," Woods said. "I figured something out on the back nine with my stroke, which was good. But I still need to hit the ball better than I did today, for sure."

Woods found eight fairways, down two from the first round, and just 11 greens in regulation, also a deficit of two over his performance on Thursday. The 32 putts he needed didn't help, either, but Woods was still in a relatively positive frame of mind.
"I'm still right there." he said. "This is a golf course that is playing tough. But some of the pins are pretty accessible. But you've got to get the ball on the fairway. This Bermuda rough is thin enough where every ball is sitting at the bottom. ... It's just really hard to judge how far it's going to be, and sometimes it doesn't even fly straight. 

"It's imperative to get the ball on the fairway, and from there, can you attack."

Woods entered the TOUR Championship ranked second in the FedExCup. He has a reasonable chance to win it for the third time in his career with a top-three finish and he can finish as low as a two-way tie for sixth and still mathematically have a shot.

Woods had dropped to third in the projections when the day was done. But there was a tantalizing point Friday afternoon where Woods and No. 1 Rory McIlroy were tied. Should that happen on Sunday when play is concluded, there will be a sudden death playoff.