CARNOUSTIE, United Kingdom (AFP) - Tiger Woods shook his head in frustration as a birdie putt rolled just past the lip of the 18th hole, summing up his second round at the British Open at Carnoustie on Friday (July 20).
The 42-year-old 14-time major champion ended the day as he started it, on level par, six shots off early clubhouse leader Zach Johnson after a second straight 71.
“I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit,” said Woods.
“I played a little bit better yesterday. Today wasn’t quite as good, but I finally birdied the par-five (the 14th). So that’s a positive.”
It was a helter-skelter ride of a round for both the legendary golfer and the legion of fans who swarmed to follow him.
Dressed all in black with a back strap to help him suppress the pain from a sore neck, and playing the large part of his round in driving rain, his expression alternated from grimaces to a rare smile shared with his caddy.
A woeful start featuring successive bogies at the second and third – the first coming after a wayward tee shot and then a wild hack from the rough – was counter-balanced immediately with two consecutive birdies.
Woods, who is without a win in five years, said the outcome at the second could have been far more costly.
“I kept moving them (the spectators) back. If you noticed, I moved them back about 40 yards,” said Woods.
“It (grass) grabbed the shaft and smothered it. I was very, very fortunate that it got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”
However, while the Tiger of old might have have built up momentum fter the two birdies, the newer version failed to find the inspiration to do so.
A further bogey on the ninth had him turning for home at one-over but he climbed to one-under with another two birdies at the 11th and 14th, and a saved par with a long putt at the 13th had Woods pumping his fist in celebration.
“I made a par there at 13, but that was not a very good 9-iron, centre of the green and hardly had anything left,” said Woods ruefully of a shot he wished he could take again.
Nevertheless, a bogey on the 16th once again took him back to his starting point for the round.
Despite his travails, those in front of him will still be wary of Woods pulling something out of his box of tricks over the weekend as he attempts to mark his return to this championship after a two-year hiatus in the best possible manner.
Woods, who said he would not be going out to practise after his round but would instead head for a session in the gym, defiantly promised his fans he would give it all he had.
“Right now I’m six back (of Johnson), and by day’s end, I think I’ll be more than that,” he said.
“It will be a pretty packed leaderboard, and I’m certainly right there in it.”