Wayward driving again costs Woods dear at Firestone

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

Time and again, the American world number one pushed his drives well right of the fairway, heaping further pressure on his renowned scrambling abilities as he battled to a two-over-par 72 in the second round.

Seeking a record eighth victory at Firestone Country Club, Woods could not take advantage of a layout softened by morning rain and had five bogeys and three birdies for a six-over total of 146.

Although the 14-times major winner birdied two of his last four holes, he followed each of them with a bogey and left the course without speaking to reporters after signing his card.

In Thursday's opening round, Woods shot a 74 after hitting five of 14 fairways. On Friday, he missed 11 fairways off the tee but limited some of that damage with creative shot-making.

However, he will enter the weekend a distant 13 strokes off the early lead having failed in his attempt to recover ground after recording his worst ever score at Firestone on Thursday.

"I've just got to hopefully get it to even par or under par for the tournament and then hopefully put together a good weekend and see where that puts me," Woods told reporters of his strategy for the second round.

DRIVING LET-DOWN

Friday's roller-coaster ride around Firestone left the 34-year-old American six shots short of his target as his driving repeatedly let him down.

At last month's British Open where Woods tied for 23rd, he bemoaned his putting while saying he had driven the ball "on a string all week."

Whatever had worked for him off the tees at St. Andrews, however, has conspicuously deserted him here at Firestone which has been one of his favorite venues in the world.

"He didn't play very well today," British world number three Lee Westwood said after playing with Woods for the first two rounds. "We're all human, we all have bad days."

Before this week, Woods had averaged a superb 67.75 in his previous 44 rounds here, winning seven times and never finishing outside the top five.

Based on his torrid start at Firestone, speculation about the emotional state of his mind can only heighten with the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, being held at Whistling Straits next week.

His marriage to his Swedish wife Elin was left in tatters as revelations of his serial philandering emerged. With a divorce reportedly imminent, his mind is perhaps not as focused on golf as has been his custom.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)