DUBLIN, Ohio — Tiger Woods‘ return to the PGA Tour at the Memorial Tournament almost didn’t last as long as he had hoped.
Woods sputtered along all morning Friday, struggling to find the fairway while shooting a 4-over 76 that put him at 3 over through the first two rounds and in danger of missing the cut at Muirfield Village.
“Not very good,” Woods said. “I three-putted two holes early, and whatever kind of momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and fought it the rest of the day.”
However, as afternoon play continued, the scores went higher and so did the cut line, allowing Woods to sneak into the weekend right on the number. The top 65 and ties advanced, with Woods one of 11 golfers tied for 64th.
By advancing, Woods still has never missed the cut in 18 appearances at the Memorial.
Woods closed Thursday’s opening round with a birdie to put him at 1 under. He needed birdies on two of the final three holes Friday to put himself in position to make the cut, which wound up being the case.
The normally reserved Woods acknowledged he was dealing with back problems that started while he was warming up before Friday’s round.
“I wasn’t quite moving as well as I’d like and couldn’t quite turn back and couldn’t quite clear,” Woods said. “It was a bit of a struggle.”
Woods hit only 10 fairways Friday after reaching 13 in the first round.
He also dealt with back stiffness in February at the Genesis Open, which was the last tournament he had played in before the Memorial.
“Basically, most of my layoffs in my career have been because of surgeries, and so this is a forced layoff for all of us,” Woods said. “This is different than my past layoffs. But this is a new world we’re living in.”
Woods opened his final nine holes with a double bogey — after hitting a sand shot over the green to the other bunker — and a bogey. He closed out the round with two birdies and a par, which he called about the “only positive” to the day.
“Well, I don’t have the same type of stamina as I used to have, that’s for sure, when I was training hard and running and all that stuff,” Woods said. “Granted, I’m a lot older now, so things change, they evolve. Yeah, so it is what it is. Energy, you try to suck it up as best you can and get through it.”