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Encouraging signs for Tiger Woods point to Augusta National

Encouraging signs for Tiger Woods point to Augusta National

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Whether Tiger Woods makes the cut at the Genesis Invitational or not, his play through two rounds at Riviera Country Club after a seven-month break is encouraging.

Tiger’s body is a very old 47. He’s endured countless surgeries on his knees and back and yet he can still outdrive Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, he can still hit shots that make actor Rob Lowe, who followed along from inside the ropes, go “that’s sick,” and he can still make you believe that he can climb the mountain again.

“He’s got enough speed, he’s hitting it far, he’s doing everything he needs to do,” McIlroy said, “It’s just a matter of making sure he can get around the golf course. That’s the most important thing. As far as the aspects you need to play golf, it was all there. When you haven’t played a competitive round in six-seventh months, whatever it is – you’re going to be a little rusty.”

We’ll never really know what Tiger has to do to get ready for these rounds but after he made his third consecutive birdie to finish up his round of 2-under 69 on Thursday, he smiled with glee as if it was all worth it. Thomas just shook his head in amazement. CBS’s lead analyst Trevor Immelman tweeted, “That’s the same reaction everyone who has played with him over the last 30 years has had.”

Friday’s 74 was a bit of a mixed bag. Tiger’s famed Scotty Cameron Newport putter malfunctioned on the front nine. He missed birdie putts from 9 feet at No. 10, 4 feet at No.11 and 5 feet at 16. They were all missed to the right. He canceled out bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13 with a near ace at 14 (10 inches) and a beautiful approach at 17 to inside 3 feet. But as PGA Tour Radio’s Will Haskett noted in a tweet, he’s never putted well on Riviera’s poa greens.

The irons, always the strength of his game, were in mid-season form.

After Tiger missed another birdie effort from inside 10 feet at No. 1, he practiced his stroke for several minutes between the first green and second tee and did a drill where he dropped a ball from eye level. Perhaps that triggered something or perhaps it was just the law of averages…


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