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Tiger Woods leans on his club as he reaches for his ball after a birdie on the seventh hole Friday in the second round of the US PGA Memorial tournament at Dublin, Ohio © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP SAM GREENWOOD

Golf

Tiger struggles with back issues as Memorial cut looms

WASHINGTON, United States, Jul 17 – Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods struggled with back issues on his way to a four-over par 76 on Friday and possibly a first-ever missed cut at the PGA Memorial tournament.

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

But the 15-time major winner, whose total ranks second only to the 18 won by Memorial host Jack Nicklaus, made five bogeys and a double bogey against three birdies in round two after an opening 71 on Thursday.

“Not very good,” Woods said. “I 3-putted two holes early. Whatever momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and struggled the rest of the day.”

Woods said his back began bothering him when he was warming up before the round, noting, “It’s going to happen more times than not these days.”

His back, which like his knees has been surgically repaired multiple times, affected his swing, saying, “It was a bit of a struggle.”

Woods had not played since February at Riviera and the back issues come with the year’s first major in a COVID-19 shuffled schedule coming on August 6-9 at the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.

Woods stood on three-over par 147 after 36 holes, just on the projected cut line as the last players teed off in the round.

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“I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow,” Woods said. “Hopefully the cut will fall one more and I’ll have the opportunity.”

Woods, who began Friday on the back nine, put his approach to three feet at the par-3 12th and made birdie, but missed a three-foot par putt at 13 and sent his first three shots into the rough on the way to a bogey at the par-5 15th.

World number 14 Woods found a fairway bunker and needed four shots to reach the green on his way to a bogey at 17 then made a double bogey at the first to begin his second nine of the day.

Bogeys at the par-4 second and sixth holes followed before Woods bounced back with birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth. But he needed three shots to reach the green and a seven-foot putt to salvage par at the last just to have hopes at making the weekend.

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