Tiger Woods was cruising: three under for his round, five under for the tournament and just two shots of the Players Championship lead when he stepped to the tee on the iconic 17th at TPC Sawgrass.
What followed was an unmitigated disaster.
Woods pulled his tee shot and found the water long, then hit his third shot from the drop area long again and wound up with a crippling, quadruple-bogey 7 that saw him fall from T8 to the cut line.
He would recover to play the rest of the round in two under under to post a one-under 71. His 36-hole three under total will see him make the weekend but find himself way further back than he would be if he'd just hit a solid wedge on 17.
"Other than 17, I really haven't done a whole long wrong," Woods told assembled reporters after the round.
The round started positively, as Woods birdied the 12th and 13th hole—his third and fourth hole of the day after starting on the back—to get to four under total, then added another at the par-5 16th to get to five under. He wouldn't stay there long, as he was first to play off 17 and saw his chances of winning this tournament all but shot with one swing.
Woods rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 second and flagged one at the 7th to give himself some cushion vis-a-vis the cut line.
On the positive side, Woods continued to look comfortable with the putter after the 14-time major champion was seen working on his stroke with instructor Matt Killen earlier in the week. He will get two more rounds in an event it wasn't clear he'd enter in the first place—Woods pulled out of last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational with a neck strain, but he said early in the week that the absence was precautionary and that his neck feels good.
He has showed no signs of discomfort through the first two rounds and has generally played quite well, apart from one hole. But that is what makes TPC Sawgrass, and the Players Championship, so exciting—disaster lurks around every corner.