• Tiger Woods played better Friday at Royal Portrush, but not well enough to avoid missing the cut for just the third time in 21 career Open starts.
By Daniel Rapaport
July 19, 2019

It was much, much better than Thursday. But it wasn't quite good enough to stick around for the weekend. 

Despite shooting a 1-under 70 on Friday at Royal Portrush, Tiger Woods will miss the cut for just the third time in his 21 career starts at the Open Championship. He finished 6-over for the tournament, with the cut almost certain to be either 1-over or 2-over.

The 15-time major champion's fate was all but sealed on Thursday, when he labored—both with his game and his body—to a 7-over 78, his worst round in the Open since an 81 at Muirfield in 2002. But Woods looked livelier and struck the ball much better on Friday, starting with the very first hole.

In the opening round, Woods didn't make his first (and only) birdie until the 15th hole. On Friday, he holed a 30-footer on the opener, setting the tone for a solid and mostly stress-free day. 

Woods added another at the par-3 6th, and when he piped a drive down the center—which did not happen much on Thursday—on the very reachable par-5 7th, he looked poised to make another birdie and perhaps make a charge toward the cut line. But his fairway-wood approach was badly pulled into the gorse, and he required four more shots from there for a crippling bogey. 

From there, it was always going to be an uphill battle, but he gave himself a chance with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11. He then failed to birdie the par-5 12th, which was a theme this week. Woods did not birdie any of Portrush's three par 5's—all of which are reachable in two—on either of the two days and played them in a combined 2-over par for the week. 

Six more pars and back-to-back bogeys at 17 and 18 added up to a 1-under 70.

Woods will make an early exit from a major for the second time this year, having missed the cut by a single stroke at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. That was his first start since winning the Masters. This, too, was Woods' first start since the previous major, where he finished T21 at the U.S. Open. 

Woods said after Friday's round that he would skip next week's World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis to get rest for the Northern Trust, the first of the three FedEx Cup playoff events, which begins Aug. 8 at Liberty National in New Jersey. 

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