Woods is overhauling his swing, a process that can be downright ugly — even for the world's No. 1 player. Needing to make a big move up the leaderboard at the BMW Championship on Friday, he instead failed to break par for the second straight day at Cog Hill, a course where he's won five times.
"I'm caught right between takeaways, and I hit some bad shots around the greens because of it," Woods said. "It'll come around. I just need more time, more practice."
Another round like this, and he'll have more time than he wanted.
Woods needs to finish somewhere around fifth to be among the top 30 players in FedEx Cup standings who qualify for the Tour Championship and the chance to compete for a $10 million bonus. He was tied for 40th at 3 over after a 1-over 72 Friday, and was nine strokes behind leaders Charlie Wi and Matt Kuchar.
"I did it last year on the weekend," said Woods, who shot a course-record 62 on Saturday on his way to the BMW title last year. "Hopefully, I can do it again."
Always looking for something, any little thing, that might give him an edge, Woods knew this summer that his game was in serious need of a fix. As his marriage crumbled following revelations of his rampant infidelities, so did his game. He has yet to win this year, and has just two top 10s.
Woods, who parted ways with swing coach Hank Haney in May, knew he needed another set of eyes to correct his problems. But he said earlier this week that he didn't have the time — or the energy.
"Let's just say I've been through a lot lately, and I didn't want to have any more information," he said Wednesday. "I was trying to get adjusted to my new life and what that entailed, and it was enough as it was."
He started working with Canadian swing coach Sean Foley at last month's PGA Championship, and likes the instant feedback he gets and the feel of what Foley has him doing.
"It feels very similar to what I used to do as a kid," Woods said.
But it's going to take time.
When Woods is at his best, his swing is second nature. Now he has to think about his technique and fundamentals on every shot.
"Even if I have to hit creative shots out of the trees, I still have to do it according to the new framework," he said. "I've been through this process before so I understand it. I've just got to be patient."
Cog Hill is one place Woods has always been able to count on playing well. He has four other top 10s in addition to his five wins here, and has finished no worse than 23rd since 1995.
But there were some holes Friday where he fought for every shot. He double-bogeyed the par-4 fifth, a hole where he routinely is on the green in two, and went from rough to sand on No. 3.
His putting wasn't exactly sharp, either. Woods took 28 putts, and he had misses from distances that would normally be gimmes. He had a 3-footer for birdie on No. 1 — he started on the back nine — and could only shake his head as he watched the ball circle the back rim and scoot away.
He didn't even bother waiting to see if his 6-footer for par would drop on No. 3, knowing as soon as he struck it that it was too much.
"I made nothing," Woods said. "I feel like I'm hitting good putts, they're just not going in."
Blame that on the swing overhaul, too.
"When I went through the changes with Butch and Hank and now with Sean, I went through stretches where I didn't chip the ball well or putt well because there's only so much time you have to spend and I've been working hard on my full swing," Woods said. "It's coming around, but certainly my short game is not where it needs to be."