SAN DIEGO –The putting stroke he lost somewhere between the practice green and the first tee eventually returned, but not until after Tiger Woods four-putted the first green for a shocking double-bogey 6 on Friday at Torrey Pines.
Woods recovered to shoot 1-under-par 71 on the South course to finish in a tie for 17th through 36 holes of the Farmers Insurance Open in his first start of 2020. He is six shots back of leader Ryan Palmer.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his hometown event, the first time he has missed consecutive cuts to start a new year in his career.
For Woods, it was an odd beginning to the round, especially when you consider he missed an 8-footer for birdie at the fourth and a 4-footer at the fifth before finally rebounding to make five birdies.
“It’s just poa,” Woods said, referring to the poa annua grass surface that is common on California greens. “I tried to ram it in the hole and it bounced, and hit obviously a terrible third putt, pulled it. The second putt … it’s just what happens on poa. I tried to take the break out and it just bounced.”
Nothing seemed amiss when Woods hit his approach 27 feet from the hole. His first putt was poor, never having a chance, leaving himself about 3-feet for par. When he missed that, he had more than 5 feet. Then missed that. He eventually walked off with a double-bogey 6 on a hole that has often tormented him.
Woods made three double bogeys on that hole on his way to winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
“It’s just the way it goes, just one of those things,” he said. “In ’08 I got off to a bad start but ended up winning the tournament. Hopefully that’s the case this year.”
There won’t be a chance for a fourth victory at the Farmers tournament for Mickelson. He shot 73 on the North course after an opening 72 on the South and missed the cut by two shots. He also missed the cut last week at the American Express and has now not had a top-20 finish since a tie for 18th at the Masters.
Mickelson has slipped to 82nd in the world, and is in danger of missing the WGC-Mexico Championship next month as well the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. After the round, Mickelson spent an hour on the driving range with his instructor, Andrew Getson.
“I’m leaving soon (for a tournament in Saudi Arabia) and Andrew was going to head back (home),” Mickelson said of the practice session. “I wanted to make sure we worked together. He is not going with me overseas. I wanted to get it ironed out. I had been playing well at the start of the season, and so missing two cuts looks like I’m playing like I did last year. I know I’m playing better. I’m not off to a great start.”
Mickelson had boasted playfully about hitting “bombs” in practice but he hit just two fairways on Friday and only five out of 28 for the tournament. He’s headed for the Saudi tournament on the European Tour, then will return to defend his title at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in two weeks. He said he might also add the Genesis Invitational.
Woods, who has won eight times at Torrey Pines, four-putted for the 13th time in his PGA Tour career, the first since the third round of last year’s WGC-Mexico Championship. The only time he won an event in which he four-putted was at the 2005 Masters, where on the 13th hole of the first round, Woods putted for eagle — and off the green in the water.
Woods recovered to birdie four of five holes to get to 5 under for the tournament on Friday, before bogeys at the 12th and 17th holes. He birdied the 18th to get to 140, 4 under par. For the day, he hit 9 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens and took 27 putts.
“I am excited about the way overall that I’m driving the golf ball,” he said. “My short game’s been really sharp, just a matter of getting the ball in the right spots to make some more putts.”