- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2014

With his left leg planted on the slope of the creek and his right folded on a stone wall beneath him, Tiger Woods swung downward on his ball, lofting it back 150 yards back onto the 11th fairway.

Nothing went easy for Woods on Friday in the second round of the Quicken Loans National, and it won’t go as he intended on Saturday or Sunday, either. For only the 10th time since joining the PGA Tour in 1997, and the first time in nearly two years, Tiger Woods missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National and will not be around to play in the final two rounds at Congressional Country Club this weekend.

“I hate to say it, but I’m really encouraged by what happened this week,” said Woods, whose 4-over-par 75 on Friday, combined with a 74 on Thursday, left him 7-over. “I missed the cut by four shots. That’s a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically and the speed I had and distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time.”

Woods, playing in his first tournament since undergoing back surgery on March 31, left plenty of strokes on the course but also left it enthused about his future.

There were no lingering effects from the surgery – the only soreness, he said, happened in places that had been otherwise untested during his layoff – and his focus now shifts to the British Open in three weeks, which was his original goal.

Friday’s round, like Thursday’s, was a challenge. Starting from the first tee in the afternoon, when other players reported the course played more firm and fast than it had the previous morning, Woods strung together a stretch of four consecutive bogeys on the back nine, including on the par-4 11th, that served as his undoing.

He also double-bogeyed the par-4 5th, with his approach sailing directly into a greenside bunker and his rescue attempt bouncing off the lip of the trap before settling back in. After getting it out, Woods had to two-putt, missing a 27-foot attempt when it rimmed out.

The top 75 players in the field of 120 made the cut, which was set at 3-over. Woods finished 13 strokes behind the four leaders – Marc Leishman, Ricky Barnes, Patrick Reed and Oliver Goss – all of whom enter Saturday at 6-under.

Not since the Greenbriar Classic in 2012, when he shot an even 140 and missed out by one stroke, has Woods missed the cut – a streak of 26 events. Last week, when he announced he would play in a competitive round for the first time since the WGC-Cadillac Championship in mid-March, he acknowledged he would likely be “rusty” but that playing a competitive round was the next step in his recovery.

“After playing these couple rounds, I think he’ll take something from it, so it won’t be a surprise when he starts the first couple rounds [at the British Open],” said Jordan Spieth, who joined Jason Day in Woods‘ threesome. “His swing looks good. He’s not over-swinging. He’s in rhythm. When he was putting, he wasn’t aggressive enough, but we were all leaving it short.”

Woods‘ biggest regret after the weekend, he said, was not spending enough time on his chipping. Not only was the length of the rough on the course an issue, but the type of grass – rye, as opposed to Bermuda – was different than in Florida, and it often led to a tougher lie.

Woods said he’ll take his children, Sam and Charlie, on vacation next week before preparing for the British Open, which will be held at Royal Liverpool – the same course where he captured his second title by two strokes in 2006.

“I’m very excited to get there, excited to play that golf course,” Woods said. “I don’t know how it’s changed since we played it. … When we played it and it was hard and fast and it was brown, so we’ll see what happens when we get there.”