Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Tiger battles back, and back, to trail by 3

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — A common phrase this year — "Tiger's back" — took on a new meaning Friday at the Barclays.

Woods felt a twinge in his lower back when he awoke and felt pain throughout the second round at Bethpage Black. He overcame his bogey-bogey start, struggled in the simple task of retrieving the ball from the cup and stayed well within range of Nick Watney and the resurgent Sergio Garcia, who shared the lead at 8-under 134 going into the weekend.

As many injuries as Woods has gone through the past two years, the way he grimaced and walked gingerly made it look as if this could be another.

But that wasn't the case.

"Must have slept funny on it," said Woods, who shot 2-under 69 and trailed by three. "Soft beds at the hotel and woke up this morning with it stiff. As I warmed up, it got progressively worse, and then you saw what happened on the golf course. It hurt all day."

Garcia and Watney played in the afternoon and worked their way up the leaderboard. Garcia, who ended a four-year drought on the PGA Tour last week by winning the Wyndham Championship, made bogey on the third hole with what he called his worst swing of the week and atoned for that with a tee shot on the par-5 fourth that restored his momentum and sent him to 68.

Watney, whose year has been so bad that he isn't even in the Ryder Cup conversation as a potential pick, went eagle-birdie on the par 5s on the front nine, then survived a wave of birdies and bogeys on the back nine for 69.

Vijay Singh, who last won a PGA event in 2008, played bogey-free for 67 and was one shot back, along with Bob Estes, who had 66. John Senden (68) and Pat Perez (70) were another stroke back at 6-under 136.

Rory McIlroy noticed Woods wincing on the opening tee shot. About an hour later, McIlroy felt his own pain with sloppy mistakes during a four-hole stretch, three of them bogeys, that left him outside the cut line. But the PGA champion bounced back with an 18-foot birdie putt on the ninth, added two more birdies and had 73 for par 142.

The cut was 1-over 143, ending the FedEx Cup playoffs for the likes of Robert Allenby and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love.

Garcia didn't look as though he would be around the tour's version of a postseason until winning last week in North Carolina by using a local club caddie. He showed no signs of a letdown at Bethpage Black while using a CBS Sports spotter on the bag.

The Spaniard is getting his own yardages, compiling his own thoughts, going off his own instincts. "Golf is a funny game," Garcia said. "When you think that you have it under control, it kicks you down. And then all of a sudden, it gives you something to love it again, I guess."

Padraig Harrington opened with 64 and revived talk about his slim chances of making the European Ryder Cup. But then he bogeyed his opening three holes and had to grind out 75 to stay in the mix at 3-under 139.

Woods headed for the fitness trailer when he finished and said he would be fine today. As for the bed? "I'm probably going to sleep on the floor. I do that in Europe all the time, so this is nothing new."

LPGA: Lydia Ko, 15, shot her second straight 4-under 68 to share the lead at 8-under 136 with Chella Choi (64) in the Canadian Women's Open at Vancouver Golf Club. Defending champion Brittany Lincicome (73) of Seminole and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (73) were at 1-over 145.

CHAMPIONS: Defending champ Mark Calcavecchia eagled the par-5 eighth and finished with 7-under 65 for the first-round lead at the Boeing Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash. Steve Pate, Jeff Sluman, Joe Don Blake, Eduardo Romero and Kirk Triplett were second at 68. Fred Couples, a native of nearby Seattle, withdrew because of back problems on the first hole.

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