PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida, (Reuters) - The old Tiger Woods stepped up when it mattered, but the new, out-of-sorts version was also on display at the Players Championship on Friday
The 14-time major champion coaxed in a clutch nine-foot birdie putt on the ninth green, his final hole of the day, to get himself through to weekend action at TPC Sawgrass.
The 2001 and 2013 Players champion gave an animated fist pump as he carded a one-under 71, enough to finish at even par, eight shots back of Kevin Na’s early lead.
“It felt good. Knowing that I had to make four to move on, at least assure myself to move on, it felt good,” Woods said.
“I knew after I bogeyed seven that the number was probably going to be even.”
The round was one of highs and lows for Woods ,who had five bogeys but countered with six birdies.
He pulled a handful of irons at times and failed to really dial in his distances on approaches to the greens.
“I haven't gotten anything out of my rounds, that's the thing. I should be a few under par each day, and I'm just not capitalizing on my opportunities, and I need to start doing that,” Woods said.
“I've given myself plenty of green-light iron shots in there. I'm just not stuffing them in there. I'm hitting them 15 feet when they should be under 10.
“I need to do a better job of that, getting the ball close, because these greens are slow right now and you can capitalize on the speed of the greens.”
Despite being eight shots back of the current lead Woods refused to count out his chances of a third Players victory, saying he absolutely had a chance.
“The guy who tees off first on Saturday could win the tournament,” he said.
“I feel like I'm playing well enough to get myself up there. I just need one good round and narrow up that gap between myself and the lead, and I feel like I can do that.”
Editing by Gene Cherry