Golf / Sports

Tiger Woods hits a chip shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal/MCT)

Poor putting puts Tiger Woods in rare underdog position at Firestone

For years, Firestone Country Club has been like Tiger Woods' personal playground.

Woods never finished worse than fifth during the first 12 years he competed at Firestone. He's won eight times. No other golfer has won more than two tournaments at the famed South Course.

After three disappointing years, between 2009-12, when Woods finished tied for 78th, tied for 37th and tied for eighth, he recaptured his throne with a victory last year.

But the reigning champ could be on his way to another disappointing finish outside of the top five after a 1-over 71 on Friday left him 10 strokes behind tournament leader Sergio Garcia, with two rounds remaining.

The same thing that frustrated Woods during those tough years between 2009-12 is troubling him again: his putting.

"It had bad speed, bad line," Woods said of his putting. "Other than that it was all right."

Woods went on to elaborate with a bit less sarcasm.

"If I would have putted like I did 1/8Thursday3/8, which is just normal, it's a 2-, 3-under round. But I missed a bunch of putts under 15 feet and they weren't even close. That's the problem. It's not like they had the go-in look. They just weren't very good."

The course that Woods has grown to know and love conspired against him a bit with the conditions. Woods mentioned a few of his drives didn't run well due to some mud.

Tee times have already been moved up to 7 a.m. for Saturday and groups will head out in threesomes because of concerns of inclement weather, so the "mud balls" and slow fairways aren't expected to go anywhere.

"Right now it's soft and we're going to get weather coming in tomorrow that will soften it up even more," Woods said. "You're going to see a bunch of guys -- the way this golf course is set up right now, a bunch of guys stacked up. It's going to be a varied bunch going into Sunday."

The weather bunching players up might actually play to Woods' advantage, though. As long as no one starts running away from the field, Woods always has the potential to fire off a couple low rounds to get right back in the mix. If there's anyone who would overcome tough conditions to usurp a stagnant field, it would be Woods.

"You've just got to go ahead and do it," Woods said. "It's certainly gettable out there."

"I'm only 7 back," said Woods, who finished his round before Garcia opened the lead to 10 strokes. "That's plenty doable on this golf course over the weekend."

If there's one thing that's been learned watching Woods play at Firestone, it's that you can never count him out. And he surely doesn't.

"That's the attitude you should have," Woods said. "If you don't have the attitude that you're going to win, why compete?"

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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