Tiger Woods managed to sneak into the weekend at the Honda Classic with a one-under-par round of 69 this afternoon at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Following a one-over-par round of 71 on Thursday, Woods made the turn in 34 strokes on Friday which put him at even par for the tournament.
Woods then proceeded to spend the next two hours exposing the good folks of South Florida to a Houdini-like short-game clinic, which allowed Woods to remain just one step ahead of the cut line.
Woods hit just two greens in regulation (the 15th and 18th) on the back nine at a golf course where water, bunkers and extremely thick rough literally lurk around every corner, yet he somehow managed to scratch and claw his way back to the clubhouse in 35 strokes, which secured him a tee time for Saturday morning.
Woods’ short-game heroics began at the 10th where he got up and down from a green-side bunker for par.
Woods then proceeded to send his tee on the 11th close to 40 yards right of the fairway. After chipping his ball back into play, Woods double crossed his approach shot and had to get up and down for bogey from a very difficult position on the short side of the green.
Woods adjusted for his push off of the tee at 11 by pulling his tee shot at 12 a good 20 yards left of the fairway. After knocking his approach shot into the green-side bunker, Woods was once again able to get up and down for a par.
Woods came up short and right of the 13th green with nothing more than a sand wedge in his hand, in what might very well have been the worst shot of his still very young 2014 PGA Tour season. Woods' chunked sand wedge at the 13th could best be described as a very poor shot from a very rusty golfer, which shouldn’t be overly surprising to anyone as this was only Woods’ fifth competitive round on the PGA Tour this season.
Luckily for Woods, he was immediately able to redeem himself by chipping in for birdie before calmly strolling along to the 14th.
Woods came up short and right with his 4-iron approach shot at the difficult par-four 14 and once again got up and down for par.
Woods finally managed to hit his first green in regulation on the back nine at the par-three 15th, which coincidentally was the first hole of the most difficult three-hole stretch on the course, known to many as “The Bear Trap.”
Woods casually two-putted the 15th for his first uneventful par in hours.
But this kind of stress-free golf was short-lived for Woods, as he was forced to get up and down from another difficult green-side bunker for par at the 16th.
Woods’ tee shot at the par-three 17th trickled into the rough left just a few inches left of the green but sat down in an absolutely horrific lie.
Not a problem.
Woods chipped to within four feet and sunk his par putt before moving on to the par-five 18th where he needed a par to make the cut, which is exactly what Woods did.
Woods, who will tee off at 7:38 a.m. ET Saturday morning with Luke Guthrie, will likely complete his third round at least two hours before tournament leader Rory McIlroy even makes his way to the first tee.
Luckily for Woods, only 66 players made the cut this week at the Honda Classic, which means that there will be no chance of him missing his second consecutive 54-hole cut of the season.
“I think once we get to Florida I think we're all thinking about our way to Augusta,” Woods said earlier this week, via ASAP Sports. “Some guys usually start at Doral, some guys start here, but once we get to Florida, now most of the guys are getting pretty serious about their prep to Augusta.”
Well, Woods’ road to Augusta so far has been quite a bumpy one. And based on the schedule Woods will likely pursue between now and the 2014 Masters, he will have, at most, 10 more rounds to get his game under control before making that drive down Magnolia Lane in early April.
That is not a lot of time for a golfer who is clearly carrying a significant amount of rust on his game.