By Andrew Both
LA JOLLA, California (Reuters) – Tiger Woods acknowledged that his long game was poor in the second round at the Farmers Insurance Open but said he was excited to make the cut and qualify for the final two rounds.
That is a far cry from the days when he considered finishing second to be a failure, but reflects the new reality of a 42-year-old who has hardly played in the past two years as he struggled to overcome back problems.
But after successful spinal fusion surgery, Woods is swinging freely for the first time in four years, even if inaccuracy plagued him on Friday in his first official event in 51 weeks.
He birdied his final hole, the par-five ninth, by two-putting from 80 feet to make the cut with nothing to spare, giving himself the chance to play two more competitive rounds as he works his way back.
“This is a different body and that’s why I’m excited to play the weekend, continue getting used to my feels because they are different,” Woods said after shooting 71 for one-under 143.
“I can hit certain shots (at home) but come out here in competition and my adrenaline goes up a little bit, I hit the ball further, but how much further?
“These are things I’m going to have to learn and I need more time under the fire of competition.”
He is equal 65th, 10 strokes behind leader Ryan Palmer (67), who heads Spanish defending champion Jon Rahm (66) by a stroke.
Woods drove the ball wildly most of the day, pulling several drives hard left but also blocking a couple right.
“I had the pulls early, actually more like a pull-flip, so it was even worse than that,” he said.
“And then after I hit a couple of shots I went for the spinner out there, and lost a couple to the right. Then I settled in and hit some good ones, but still not quite right. I need to fix that.”
But at least his short game was sharp and he putted well.
“My short game has been good all week, so that parts been solid.
“It’s been a long 12 months,” he added.
“It’s nice to get out there and compete. I was grinding my way round the course today.
“These guys are all going low and I haven’t done that in a long time.
“I’m looking forward to just progressing, keep playing tournaments and get everything situated headed to April,” he said referring to the Masters.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)