DUBLIN, Ohio – When he was younger, he was looking forward to getting older.
"Because I was getting better and better," he said Friday.
Life is difficult. Woods, 44, no longer thinks so highly of the passage of time.
"Aging is no fun," he said. "Now I'm just trying to keep it up."
Well before dawn on Friday, Woods woke up for his start time at 8:17 AM. vertebrae in his surgically reconstructed back felt great and he was eager to build on his solid opening round on Thursday at the Memorial Tournament – his first appearance on the PGA Tour since mid-February.
Arrival at Muirfield Village Golf Club, with a bright sun on its back casting a glow across the training ground, Woods started warming up with some carefree swings of a wedge, but in the transition to faster swings with more stressful clubs, especially his woods, something wrong.
His goal was to break free, but in the tangled web of reshaped bone, scar tissue, muscles and arthritis that is now Woods' lower back, an opposite result unfolded. He felt tighter and his movements became more limited.
Woods was asked on Friday if that type of double-cross was very common.
"Yes, that's right," he replied.
A follow-up question: & # 39; So you never know exactly what you will have every day? & # 39;
Woods smiled broadly and replied, "It's going to happen more often than not."
Towards the end of Friday's second round, Woods walked cautiously off the golf course with 18 holes, shuddering, curving, limping and fiery with his hands to his lower back. With a round of 76 that left him three-over-par for the tournament, it looked like Woods' long-awaited return would only take two days. But golf can be just as capricious as a bad back. A large number of golfers struggled Friday – Bryson DeChambeau made a fivefold bogey 10 on one hole – and Woods survived the two-day cut of the field with one stroke.
Woods ended 12 tricks behind second-round leaders Tony Finau and Ryan Palmer on Friday and hardly argued. But as Woods said hours before the line was reached, "I'd like to have the chance to play tomorrow."
It was a bold statement after the inconvenience that Woods had clearly endured.
During the second half of his round, Woods struggled to make a full backswing on tee shots with a driver or a 3-wood, and while trying to unleash his typically powerful swipe at the ball, he couldn't hold the club with both hands. With his right hand out of the club's grip, he repeatedly shot weaker shots that faded to the right. In the end he seemed to aim to the left to compensate.
"It was a bit of a struggle," he said, adding, "I'm much older now, so things change, they change. You try to suck it up and get through it as best you can. & # 39;
Woods playing partner, Rory McIlroy, saw what happened.
& # 39; Yes you could see when we made the turn, he hit some fairway wood shots from the tee he kind of tucked on, "said McIlroy, the number 1 ranked golfer on the tour." He didn't move at all. "
During those holes, there was a scene after the swing that returned for Woods: With a painful expression, he saw a quirky tee-shot landing in a deep shaggy sigh and softly mumbles something to himself.
McIlroy was asked if Woods said anything about his back that was bothering him
"No, not really, I mean, you can tell – after a shot he might make a grimace, & # 39; said McIlroy. He continued, 'He's never been anyone to make excuses, right? So no, he's never going to do that. "
In the end, Woods gave himself the chance to make the cut by deciding to shoot two undersized on his last three holes. On the par-5 seventh hole – his 16th hole of the day as he started his round on the 10th tee – Woods' spectacular recovery from a greenside bunker left a two-foot birdie putt, then sank a 20-foot birdie put on the 209-yard, par-3 eighth hole after an impressive tee-shot to a raised green.
His 3-wood from the ninth tee provoked a new shudder and shot from well to the right of the fairway Woods stood over his ball and considered a miracle that shot around, through or over a group of trees in his path to the green.It was a tempting choice as he may need a third consecutive birdie to play this weekend.Woods instead got back to the fairway and hit another wedge to the green His last stroke of the day was ee One seven-foot putt that fell into the hole.
Nevertheless, it was a comeback that seemed to be disputing. At the time, the expected cutting line was twice as high.
Woods, whose next PGA Tour win is 83rd and sets a career record for tour wins, chose to remember the positive points of his finish. He spoke of a much-loved golf term that is meant to describe the most stubborn, stubborn golfers known as grinders.
"Anyone who fights all day, I think those are the guys who were usually grinders," Woods said. "Guys who never want to make bogeys."
He was asked if he considered himself someone.
"Have always done it," he said.