Woods braces himself for more back struggles

DUBLIN (Ohio) • Tiger Woods admitted that he struggled with back issues on his way to a four-over 76 on Friday, but narrowly avoided missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament for the first time.

The 44-year-old, playing his first PGA event since February after a Tour shutdown in March over the coronavirus pandemic, had never missed the cut in 17 earlier starts at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

But he made five bogeys and a double-bogey against three birdies in the second round after a 71 on Thursday, and had a long wait to know that record remained intact.

"Not very good," he said, when asked to assess his round. "I three-putted two holes early. Whatever momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and struggled the rest of the day."

He said his back, which like his knees has been surgically repaired multiple times, began bothering him when he was warming up.

He added: "It's going to happen more times than not these days. It was a bit of a struggle."

The back issues come with the year's first Major coming on Aug 6-9 at the PGA Championship. The American stood on three-over 147 after 36 holes, just above the cut line, as compatriots Tony Finau (69) and Ryan Palmer (68) overcame slow starts to share the lead.

Starting on the back nine, overnight leader Finau struggled out of the gate with bogeys on two of his first three holes.

But momentum shifted his direction when he saved par with a greenside bunker shot out of an awkward stance on the par-three fourth that rolled within inches of the hole. He went on to birdie three of his final five holes and sits atop the leaderboard with Palmer at nine-under 135. Palmer suffered his first bogey of the tournament on his second hole but went error-free the rest of the way.

World No. 4 Dustin Johnson posted his second straight 80 for 16-over par after winning the Travelers Championship last month.

Bryson DeChambeau's second-round 76 included a quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-five 15th as he joined Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose in missing the cut.


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