Tiger moves to fringe of contention at Players

Associated Press Published: May 12, 2012

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods' biggest problem Friday was a broken right shoe.

It turned out to be a quick fix.

If he keeps playing the way he did in the second round at The Players Championship, he might be able to say the same about his golf game.

Woods made four consecutive birdies after a shoe swap in the sixth fairway, shot a 4-under 68 and put himself on the edge of contention heading into the weekend. He was at 2-under 142, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson, Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar.

"I'm still with a good chance," Woods said.

He hasn't been able to realistically say that for weeks. Woods had gone nine rounds without shooting in the 60s. After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he struggled at the Masters and missed the cut at Quail Hollow last week. After spraying the ball around in the opening round at TPC Sawgrass, he was in danger of missing consecutive cuts for the first time in his career.

A burst of birdies changed everything.

It started with his best shot of the week, a 5-wood into a stiff breeze on the par-3 eighth that caught a slope on the edge of the green and rolled 8 feet from the flag. That was the first of four straight birdies, and when his tee shot to the island-green 17th settled at the very back of the green, he was no longer in danger of going home early again.

"I probably could have gotten one or two more out of (the round)," said Woods, who broke an eyelet on his right shoe on the fifth tee. "But I really played well. I was just very consistent. Nothing spectacular, just real solid golf."

Woods signed a few autographs after his round and headed to the range to fine-tune his swing.

Some of golf's other big names headed home.

Rory McIlroy stumbled to a 76 and became the first player at No. 1 in the world ranking to miss the cut at Sawgrass since Greg Norman in 1996. Steve Stricker had made a PGA Tour-leading 49 cuts in a row until he shot 74 and ended a streak that began in August 2009.

Just about everyone who remains has a chance going into the weekend, including Woods and Phil Mickelson. They were six shots behind. But they are chasing the gang from Sea Island — home of Kuchar and Johnson, along with PGA Tour rookie Harris English, who was one shot out of the lead.

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