Woods plays through pain, makes another major PGA cut

Woods plays through pain, makes another major PGA cut

TULSA, Okla. — Tiger Woods clenched his jaw as the pain hit.

He limped, occasionally used a driver as a cane and pushed his rebuilt right leg over and through the hills and swales of Southern Hills on Friday with a singular mission: to get to the PGA Championship weekend.

And he did. Woods fired a second-round 1-under 69 that put him 3-over par for the tournament, one shot inside the cut line. He was in danger of missing the weekend before rallying with two birdies on the final six holes.

“You can’t win the tournament if you miss the cup. I’ve won tournaments – not major championships, but I’ve won tournaments on the number of cups,” Woods said after carefully climbing the few steps. to the stage for his post-tour interview. “There’s a reason you fight hard and are able to give yourself a chance at the weekend.”

Few consider it a realistic scenario how Woods has to fight his body to pass a round. A 15-month-old car accident left his right leg so badly damaged that doctors considered amputation.

Woods returned to competition last month at the Masters. He made the cut there and gutted all weekend at Augusta National in a glorious comeback to adoring galleries. He didn’t play again until his return to the PGA, a championship he won four times, most recently in 2007 at Southern Hills.

PGA Championship fans pushed him again, even when he looked miserable. He started with a 4 out of 74. He said just about everything that hurt his leg that day before leaving the course for a night of physical therapy and ice baths.

He recovered well enough to start again on Friday, which in itself impressed his playing partner Rory McIlroy.

“Just incredibly tough and mentally strong,” said McIlroy, who chatted with Woods often during Friday’s round. “He feels it, and he feels it with every swing. … Yeah, look, he’s the ultimate pro. Watching him yesterday, if it had been me, I would have considered retiring and going home. home. But Tiger is different and he proved he was different. It was just a monumental effort.”

Woods never considered leaving.

“Just the fact that I can play golf again and compete in our biggest championships,” the 15-time major champion said. “I won’t be playing many tournaments in the future. They will be the biggest tournaments. I want to be able to play the big championships. I always liked playing them.”

Even if it takes an effort from the whole team to put him back on the course four days in a row.

“Luckily I’m able to do it somehow,” Woods said. “I had great (physiotherapy) staff putting Humpty-Dumpty back together, and we’re going tomorrow.”

Woods closed a question about whether his leg felt better or worse than Thursday. By then he was done talking about it.

There will be challenges over the next two days.

On Friday, on the steep incline of the No. 1 start, Woods used his driver as a cane to make his way easier down the hill. The stairs from the #10 tee were also slow. A ball in a bunker can mean awkward stance and unsteady feet.

But there are times when he can clear his mind of aches and pains.

A birdie at No. 5 seemed to straighten his step on the next few holes until a bogey three holes later flirted him with the cut line again. On the ninth, he clenched his jaw before coming out of the rough into an uphill green.

The real problem came on the par-3 11th when he missed the green well left, then slammed his club against a cart path in anger. A double bogey followed and he was in danger of ending the week early.

Then came the late rally stretch. Woods finally got the cushion he needed with a birdie at No. 16.

Woods finished the Masters with consecutive rounds of 78. He left Southern Hills on Friday hoping for a better finish in Tulsa if his leg allows.

“Coming back here to a place where I’ve had success, playing against the best players in the world, that’s what we all want to be able to do,” Woods said.

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