Tiger Woods was poised to take control at the Barclays on Friday. Instead, he went the other way.
Woods missed a 20-inch putt for one of his four bogeys over the last eight holes and shot a 2-over 73. The difference from the rest of the year is this only cost him the lead, not a chance of winning.
Jason Day, the 22-year-old Australian who won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year, made three straight birdies late in his round and finished with a good par for a 4-under 67 that gave him a one-shot lead.
Day was at 8-under 134, one shot ahead of Kevin Streelman (63) and Vaughn Taylor (70).
Woods was four shots behind going into the weekend, and not the least bit concerned with whether he could make up the deficit.
“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 136, while the pack another shot behind included Adam Scott (71) and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who had a 68.
Europe's Ryder Cup team will be decided Sunday evening, and Harrington can only hope to be one of three captain's picks.
“The last thing I wanted was to come here and miss the cut, or play poorly here,” Harrington said.
Paul Casey, also hopeful of a Ryder Cup pick, shot 69 and was in the group with Woods that also included Zach Johnson.
Woods at least will keep his No. 1 ranking for another week. Phil Mickelson missed the cut, then left The Barclays through a side door without speaking to reporters.
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 par 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.”
He made bogey on the next hole with one of his few poor iron shots that came up short, then missed his only fairway of the day on the ninth hole and made one last bogey.
Throughout the day, the problem was putting. On three straight holes on the front nine, he ran putts some 4 feet beyond the hole and had to work for his pars.
“I didn't have the speed at all on the greens,” he said. “I was leaving it way short or blowing it by the hole. And it caught up with me.”
Woods has failed to break par in 15 of his last 19 rounds, although at least this time he's still in the game. Making the cut was the priority, and now he needs a strong weekend to set himself up for the other three playoff events. He is No. 112 in the standings, and the top 100 advance next week to Boston.
“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.”