Friday, August 5, 2011

Tiger's REAL return is going to take time

You expected something similar to Rome being built in a day?

Tiger Woods struggled on Friday in the second round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. After looking promising in Thursday's round, shooting a 2-under 68, Woods took a little step back on Friday with a 1-over 71.

Many were surprised.

They shouldn't have been.

Prior to teeing it up on Thursday, 11 weeks had passed since Woods had last played a competitive round of golf.

In many ways, Woods is starting over again. Not only has he not played on a healthy set of legs in nearly three months, he hadn't PLAYED for nearly three months.

Woods was erratic on Friday. He missed a two-foot putt for par early in the round. He lipped out a birdie putt a hole later.

Getting to his second nine of the day, he drove the ball into the rough and took an unpenalized drop because he had hit the ball so close to the fairway. As he lined up for the next shot, he thought hard, changed his mind on what club he was using and proceeded to hit the ensuing shot into a sand bunker.

But it didn't get much better. He hit a poor sand shot and two-putted for par.

Two holes later he scored a double-bogey on a birdie-friendly Hole 6.

All the while, fans cheered his arrival to tee boxes and greens. They shouted encouragement and showed support.

Tiger is back on the course, he's just not THERE yet.

And it's going to take some time.

Woods warned everyone of this. He said that while his game felt crisp during practice rounds, playing competitive rounds were a different story.

He was right.

Whether it is because he has healthy legs for once or has fixed his swing a bit, Woods is hitting the ball farther and more crisp than ever before. It's throwing off his game a bit.

As far as his short game is concerned, the touch is on-and-off. He had 29 putts on Friday, making a few nice ones but blowing a few others.

Woods was adamant afterward that he could still win the tournament.

"Why show up at a tournament if you're not there to win?" he asked rhetorically. "There's no reason to come."

When a reporter suggested that some golfers would ratchet back expectations coming off a three-month layoff, Woods cut him off and said, "I'm not other guys."

Until he re-calibrates his distance with his clubs and regains his putting touch, that's exactly what he is.

- John Kampf


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