Tiger Woods Putter Struggles Hinder P.G.A. Championship Round

On Friday, Woods struggled with a new longer putter on the way to a hard-earned two-over-par 72. He finished eight strokes behind the P.G.A. Championship leader Haotong Li.Tiger Woods said that he switched to a slightly longer putter in part so he wouldn’t have to bend over as much while practicing. Credit…Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesSAN FRANCISCO…

Tiger Woods Putter Struggles Hinder P.G.A. Championship Round

On Friday, Woods struggled with a new longer putter on the way to a hard-earned two-over-par 72. He finished eight strokes behind the P.G.A. Championship leader Haotong Li.Tiger Woods said that he switched to a slightly longer putter in part so he wouldn’t have to bend over as much while practicing. Credit…Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesSAN FRANCISCO — At this stage of Tiger Woods’s career, unpredictability is as sure a bet as a red shirt on Sunday.Concerns about loosening his surgically repaired back linger over his every appearance. The much-discussed summer fog and cool air at T.P.C. Harding Park constantly threaten Woods’s ability to function without pain or fatigue. In the past few years, he’s changed golf club manufacturers, his brand of golf ball and, this week, even his putter. He wore a neck gaiter Thursday, a sign of the pandemic times.A laborious Friday round of two-over 72 put Woods at even par for the P.G.A. Championship — tied for 44th, eight shots behind leader Haotong Li — just clear of the one-over-par cut line.His performance through two rounds have shown how, even with the most considered approach, no one knows what will come from what used to be the most reliable wager in sports: Tiger Woods at a major.For starters, his Thursday morning round was excellent, a competitive 68 that looked fresh and included some of his best putting of the year — his combined total of 114 feet, 9 inches of made putts signaled a season-high. Another sign of the times: Woods’s switch to a slightly longer putter was made, he said, in part so he didn’t have to bend over as much while practicing.If Tiger Woods was back to making putts — could another major win be possible?From his first swing of the day Friday, a piped 301-yard drive from the first tee, his back looked healthy, perhaps a benefit of the afternoon tee time that allowed him to rest and warm up. His next swing was sound, though his missed 7-footer for birdie was a disappointment.Another missed putt, a 12-footer for par on No. 3, which stayed left despite Woods’s body language urging it right, led to bogey and que
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