PGA Championship - Round Two
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There has never been a great golfer who’s made as many 12-foot par putts as Tiger Woods. Throughout his remarkable career, he’s attacked every hole location, knowing his putter was the great eraser of any mistake. On Friday at the PGA Championship, that eraser didn’t eliminate errors – it compounded them.

As a result, Woods enters Saturday’s third round at TPC Harding Park eight strokes behind Haotong Li, trailing 43 players and tied with 15 others. The silver lining is that he and Kevin Mitchell tee off at 10 a.m., when Harding Park is at its most receptive, and will finish before Li and Tommy Fleetwood head out at 3 p.m., when the greens are faster and the wind is stronger.

For almost all of his career, Woods used a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter, winning almost all of his 82 PGA Tour titles and 14 of his 15 majors with it. This week, he replaced it with a prototype Scotty Cameron that’s slightly longer, allowing him to stand up straighter, easing the strain on his surgically repaired back.

On Thursday, it worked well enough as he shot two-under-par 68 to be three off the lead. But on Friday, Woods squandered a bunch of birdie opportunities and couldn’t save par when he had to, making the cut by one stroke after a two-over-par 72 put him at 140.

“I drove it great,” he said after missing four birdie putts inside 15 feet. His first birdie came on No. 10, the par-5 that’s been the easiest hole at Harding Park. The other was on No. 16 when he made a 12-footer, his longest make of the day. After holing 114 feet of putts on Thursday, he made just 49 feet on Friday.

“The putting green is faster than the golf course,” he said about struggling with the pace of his putts. “Some of the pins were up on crests so you’re putting into the grain early and then you go past the hole, and it’s down grain. I didn’t want to make the mistake of blowing it past on a few of those holes and I left them short and on the low side.”

At least one observer thought the issue for Woods was not the club or the speed of the greens but something more technical.

“It would be very hard for me to suggest anything to the great Tiger Woods,” said Ian Baker-Finch, who used a magical putter to win The Open in 1991 and now is a commentator for CBS. “That being said, if I had to give him one thing it would be to weaken the left hand a little more like it used to be.”

One thing that has not weakened for Woods is his belief in himself. Asked if he could still win and tie Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus with a record five PGA Championship titles, the 44-year-old Woods never hesitated with his answer.

“Absolutely,” he said. “With the dots for tomorrow, they’ve got them in some tough spots,” he said about the hole locations for the third round.

“I’m going off early and hopefully I can get it going, drive the ball like I did today, hit my irons a little bit more crisp and be a little bit more aggressive on the putts,” he said.

“If I can get myself in position where like I did today off the tee, I think I can have a really good weekend,” Woods said.

Tiger likely went to bed Friday thinking a 65 on Saturday would throw him right back into the mix. Certainly, if he makes a move early it will get the attention of the dozens of players in front of him.

That’s always been the most important club in Woods’ bag – belief. Not only does he always have rock-solid confidence, the other players know what he’s capable of. A couple of made putts by Woods early in the third round could set up a very interesting day.

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