Tiger Woods barely survived the cut at The Players Championship, but he’s making the most of surviving to play the weekend.
Woods, who started the day on the cut line tied with 12 others for 68th at 1-under, came out red-hot at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, notching six birdies with no bogeys on the front nine and finishing with a round of 7-under 65 to move to 8-under 208 for the tournament.
“Well I finally got off to a good start,” Woods said afterward, per Golfweek. “I birdied the first couple of holes and I just kept it rolling from there. I hit a lot of good shots today. It was nice to see a few putts go in. I hit a lot of, overall, the whole day, a lot of quality shots and 65 was probably as high as I could have shot today, which was kind of nice.”
He needed just 12 putts through the first nine holes and jumped all the way up to a tie for 11th at 7-under as he carded a 30 at the turn.
“It was nice, I made some putts today, that was basically the difference,” Woods said. “I’ve hit quality irons before and I was able to convert today and got rolling early.”
Woods opened the back nine with a par on No. 10, but then found himself with a shot at eagle on No. 11. He missed the 40-foot putt, but easily sank a short birdie putt to move to 7-under for the day.
He opened No. 12 by flubbing his iron off the tee to the right, but salvaged it with a pitch that rolled onto the green and then sank an eight-foot putt for yet another birdie. His tee shot on the par-3 13th hole left him four yards from the pin, but his birdie attempt missed right and he had to settle for par.
On, No. 14, a 485-yards par 4, Woods had his first misstep of the day. His drive left him 198 yards out in the rough and his approach left him still a good 40 yards away. He pitched it to within 23 feet of the hole, but was unable to make the par putt and carded his lone bogey through 14 holes.
His drive on No. 15 was again right and landed in a bunker, but he chipped out to find himself with a 40-plus foot attempt at birdie that just missed before he tapped in. After his second shot on the par-5 16th left him in a bunker, he recovered with a chip to within seven feet but then two-putted for par.
Woods wrapped up his round with a par on No. 17, after just missing a 30-foot birdie putt on the 126-yard par 3, and then found himself with a 15-foot birdie attempt on No. 18. Again, he just missed and settled for par.
He’ll have a long way to go to put any pressure on Webb Simpson, who leads the tournament at 15-under and doesn’t play until the afternoon, but it’s a far cry from his play in the first two rounds.
Simpson shot 31 on the front nine when he shot a course-record-tying 63 on Friday
“These guys are going to go low today again,” Woods noted. “I think that some of the guys will probably shoot better scores than I did out there today. It’s definitely gettable. I know there’s a lot of pressure coming down the back nine here, but I think these guys, the way they have setup the golf course today, it’s set up for these guys to go low.”
Woods played the first two days in a featured group with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, but was the only one of the three former winners here to make the cut.
Woods won the event in 2001 and 2013.
The 42-year-old Woods returned to tour this year after rehabbing from a fourth back surgery and has shown mixed results. He has four top 10 finishes, but also missed a cut at the Genesis Open and also has finishes where he tied for 23rd and 55th.
Woods hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since 2013.