Woods Stumbles Down Stretch at Barclays
PARAMUS, N.J. -- Jason Day can't get a straight answer from doctors on the mysterious health issues sapping away at his energy. He at least knows exactly where he stands after two rounds of The Barclays.
A tournament that once looked as though it might belong to Tiger Woods shifted late Friday to the hands of the 22-year-old Australian, who showed some of his great promise with three late birdies for a 4-under 67 and a one-shot lead.
Nine players had at least a share of the lead at some point during the second round until Day's late surge. He was at 8-under 134, one shot clear of Kevin Streelman (63) and Vaughn Taylor (70) going into the weekend of the FedEx Cup's first playoff event.
"I just tried to stay as patient as possible, and it just kind of fell in my lap, which was really good," he said.
Woods didn't so much lose his patience as much as his putting stroke. Part of that was playing in the afternoon on greens that became bumpy under foot traffic and a day of blazing sun, as Woods expected.
He wasn't planning on missing a 20-inch par putt on the fifth hole, or failing to make a single birdie on the easier front nine.
"I didn't hit it bad at all," Woods said. "I hit it really good. As I said, I didn't putt really well. I hit it as good as I did yesterday. If I don't make putts, I don't score."
He wound up with a 73, eight shots worse than his opening round.
The good news for the world's No. 1 player — he will stay atop the world ranking for at least another week after Phil Mickelson missed the cut, and he's still very much in contention. Most times this year, a bad day for Woods meant an early tee time on the weekend.
He still was only four shots behind, and at least takes this with him into the weekend: He has missed only two fairways in two rounds, although he never hit driver one time in the second round.
"You play around here and post good numbers, you'll move up the board," he said. "The guys aren't going to be tearing this place apart."
Streelman sure did.
Two years after narrowly missing a playoff at Ridgewood Country Club, Streelman ran off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch for a 63 that will put him in the final group Saturday. Clearly, this is no ordinary place for him. Streelman's grandparents are buried in a cemetery beyond the seventh hole. His parents live in the area. These are his roots.
"It's like a special home for me, a special place," he said.
Stewart Cink raised his Ryder Cup hopes with a 69 that put him in a group at 6-under 136 with Ryder Cup hopeful Stewart Cink (69), Martin Laird (67) and John Senden, who reached 9 under until he stumbled badly down the stretch, taking a double bogey from the shrubs on the 16th. Senden shot 69.
It was a great start for Laird and Senden — and yes, even Woods — as it relates to the FedEx Cup. Laird and Senden were just inside the top 100 in the standings, knowing that only the top 100 advance to the second round next week outside Boston.
Woods, at No. 112, is virtually assured of making it through to next week.
Also at stake this week is the Ryder Cup, at least in auditioning for the European and U.S. teams. Padraig Harrington of Ireland has to rely on a captain's pick, and he shot 68 to join the group at 5-under 137 that includes Adam Scott and Ben Crane.
Europe's team — including the three picks — will be decided Sunday.
"The last thing I wanted was to come here and miss the cut, or play poorly here," Harrington said.
Woods wants to play on the U.S. Ryder Cup team as a captain's pick — the American selections won't be announced until Sept. 7 — and the desire alone makes him a worthy candidate. His game is starting to show plenty of promise, too.
Woods went to 8 under when he hit his approach to 5 feet for birdie on the 18th. Heading to the front nine, the easier of the two nines at Ridgewood, he had only 93 yards to the hole and a wedge in his hand. Woods went 40 feet long, left his first putt 6 feet short and made that to escape with par.
That set the tone for the rest of his round.
Posing over his tee shot on the par-3 second, it sailed over the green and left Woods a tough chip. As he started his swing, a photographer took a series of pictures. "Not in my swing," Woods said as he made contact, sending it 25 feet long for his first bogey.
The real damage came on No. 5, the 291-yard hole where Woods hit driver to 15 feet in the opening round. With the pin close to the front, he would have had to take something off a driver, so he opted to lay up. The plan worked fine until Woods putted to just inside 2 feet from the fringe, then missed the par putt.
"Ball was sitting in a hole," Woods said. "I could see it. I was trying to hit up on it and hook it like I normally do. I didn't do it."
Day, meanwhile, is feeling rested. He feared he would need sinus surgery until another doctor tested him and thought he might have mononucleosis. "I can't get a straight answer," Day said with a smile.
He rested well last week, although he hardly practiced, so he was pleasantly surprised to be leading.
Mickelson followed an opening 72 with a 3-over 74 and he missed the cut by four strokes.
It was the third time this year Mickelson has missed the cut — two of them were tournaments sponsored by Barclays, one of his top endorsement deals — and the ninth time he failed in a bid to replace Woods at No. 1.
He left the course without speaking to reporters.