Tiger Woods walks down the 18th fairway during the second round of the Quicken Loans National Friday at Congressional Country Club. Woods failed to make the cut after finishing 4-over 75. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)
Bethesda, Md. — Tiger Woods never felt so good after playing so badly.
Taking two shots to escape a plugged lie in a bunker put him a hole. Four straight bogeys on the back nine Friday in the Quicken Loans National buried his chances of making it to the weekend. Over two rounds at Congressional, he missed 16 greens and managed to save par only three times.
Woods was back — just not for very long.
Playing for the first time in more than three months because of back surgery, he had a 4-over 75 and missed the cut by four shots. It was only the 10th time in his PGA Tour career that Woods missed a 36-hole cut, and the first time he didn’t sound overly distressed.
“I hate to say it, but I’m really encouraged by what happened this week,” Woods said. “I missed the cut by four shots — that’s a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically, and the speed I had and the distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time. Felt great today. Then, as I said, I made so many little mistakes … all the little things that I know I can fix. But as I said, that’s very encouraging.”
And it wasn’t all that surprising.
Woods had played only four tournaments this year while coping with an increasingly sore back, which led him to have surgery March 31 and miss the first two majors. He had hoped to return for the British Open next month. Instead, he felt strong enough to play the Quicken Loans National, primarily because it benefits his foundation and Woods figured he needed to get in a little competition before going to Royal Liverpool.
Marc Leishman of Australia turned potential bogey into unlikely birdie when he holed out from 127 yards on the par-5 ninth hole on his way to a 5-under 66 and a four-way share of the lead going into the weekend.
Michelle Wie shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 in her first round since winning the U.S. Women’s Open last weekend at Pinehurst, leaving her a stroke behind leader Alena Sharp in the NW Arkansas Championship at Rogers, Arkansas.
Bernhard Langer overpowered vulnerable Fox Chapel for the second straight day, shooting a 6-under 64 to take the lead in the Senior Players Championship at Pittsburgh.
Langer, 56, a two-time winner this season on the Champions Tour, was at 11-under 129.