Tiger Woods manages lone birdie on final hole in second round of Wells Fargo Championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After two days of poor putting and mounting frustration, Tiger Woods at least had a hint of a self-deprecating sense of humor Friday when his only birdie putt of the second round dropped on his final hole.
“I’m on a hot streak now,” he said.
The 13-footer that fell on the ninth green was the only putt he made outside of 6 feet during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship. And it was the only birdie he made at Quail Hollow all day, avoiding the dubious distinction of posting just the sixth round of his professional career without one.
Perhaps more important, that putt should keep him around for the weekend, as he was in danger of missing the 36-hole cut.
“I feel more comfortable on faster greens,” Woods said after a 2-over-par 73 put him at 144, 2 over par for the tournament. “I’ve had ample time to make the adjustment, and I just haven’t. I haven’t felt comfortable hitting the putts as hard as we have to hit them this week.”
Asked what he needed to do to turn it around on the greens, Woods said: “It’s called work. I have to go work on it, fix it and try to get a little more hit in my stroke.”
Woods wasn’t kidding. After a five-hour round that ended just before 1 p.m., he headed to the practice putting green and even changed from golf shoes into a pair of sneakers — suggesting he might be there for a while.
Playing with Masters champion Patrick Reed and U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka, Woods played well enough to be within touch of the leaders. He has hit 26 of 36 greens through two rounds and ranks in the top 10 in the field in strokes gained off the tee.
But he looked awful on the greens. Woods ranked 143rd (out of 156) in strokes gained putting at -4.131, meaning he is giving up more than four strokes to the field on the greens.
After needing 31 putts Thursday and making three birdies, Woods took 33 on Friday with just the one birdie.
“I’ve hit it good enough to be right up next to that lead,” he said. “If I just putt normal, I’m right there. I’m hitting it fine, and I just need to make some putts. Hopefully, this weekend I’ll hit it the way I’ve been hitting it and get a hot putter on the weekend. You never know.”
Woods is trying to avoid the 18th missed cut of his career on the PGA Tour as a pro (19th worldwide) and a third missed cut at Quail Hollow. This is the only venue where he has missed more than one — in 2010 and 2012.
The latter missed cut was the last time Woods played here, but he can’t shake the knowledge of the way the greens used to play. From 2004 to 2009, Woods played here four times, never finishing worse than 11th and picking up a victory in 2007.
Since that time, Quail Hollow underwent alterations in advance of the 2017 PGA Championship, including a different strain of grass on the greens. Although they are firm, the surfaces are not as quick as they appear, according to Woods.
“It normally happens on slower greens,” he said. “I’ve always putted faster greens well, and slower greens I’ve always kind of struggled. This is no different. As I said earlier, I’ve had ample time to make the adjustment. I just haven’t. I’m struggling with putting that much hit in my stroke to hit it that much harder. I’ve just got to be able to do it.”
He should have the weekend at Quail Hollow to sort it out.