Posted May 11, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Television cameras and thousands of eyeballs focused on Tiger Woods' right foot as he made his way up the sixth fairway. No worries, though. It was just a broken shoe. Woods snapped the eyelet during his tee shot at the par-4 No. 5, called for a backup shoe and made a quick swap following his approach shot on the next hole. He found some rhythm a few minutes later, enough to help him avoid missing the cut for the second consecutive week. Woods made four straight birdies in the middle of his round Friday, shot a 4-under 68 and made it to the weekend at The Players Championship. He also ended a streak of nine consecutive rounds in the 70s on the PGA Tour. ''I probably could have gotten one or two more out of it,'' said Woods, who missed the cut last week at the Wells Fargo Championship. ''But I really played well today. I was just very consistent, and nothing spectacular, just real solid golf.'' Woods finished the second round six shots behind co-leaders Zach Johnson, Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar. But with danger lurking on every hole, no lead is safe on the treacherous Stadium Course. So Woods likes his position. ''I'm still with a good chance,'' he said. Woods closed ground on the par-5s Friday, making birdies on three of the four long holes. ''I had to play them better than I have been playing par 5s, period,'' Woods said. ''Good drives here, you're hitting irons to just about every par 5, especially 9. ... Those four par 5s, you've got to have iron to the green. We as players just have to take care of the par 5s.'' Woods' four-hole birdie stretch started at the par-3 eighth - not long after the shoe swap. He landed his tee shot pin high into a stiff wind and made a 10-footer. ''Yeah, it was fun to see him kind of get things going, and it looked like he freed up a little bit and started playing some golf,'' playing partner Rickie Fowler said. ''You know, he's hitting a lot of good shots and hitting a lot of good putts. There's a lot of putts that didn't go in.'' Woods followed with impressive approach shots on Nos. 9, 10 and 11, all of them setting up birdies. ''I was trying to just keep plugging along,'' he said. ''I ended up making four in a row there. And then at 12 I had just a little flip sand wedge in there to make par, and I thought I stuffed it there at 13. It was a foot or two from being a kick in. It would have been a really nice stretch there.'' ---(equals) LAND LOVER: Robert Allenby wasn't sure a pitching wedge would get to the back pin on the island-green 17th, so he went with a chip 9-iron. But he could see it catch a gust, and as it floated down to earth, Allenby held his breath. The ball barely made it to the island, nestled in the rough next to the bunker. He chipped in for a birdie, which enabled him to make the cut. But that's not the significance of the 17th hole on Friday. Since he first played the TPC Sawgrass in 1995, and in the 53 rounds that followed, Allenby has never hit it in the water. His advice? ''Hit it in the middle of the green,'' he said with a laugh. There was one close call through the years. The pin was front in the bowl during the third round in 2001, and Allenby went so long that it stopped a few feet away from going over the back. With his feet on the wooden planks, he rolled in a 70-foot birdie putt that broke three times and disappeared into the cup. Not many remember that putt, because another guy made a birdie putt later that afternoon from about the same line, only a little bit closer. That was Tiger Woods, and the putt was famously described as ''better than most.'' But apparently not better than all. ---(equals) STRICKER'S STREAK: Steve Stricker's consecutive cut streak is over. Stricker had made 49 straight cuts, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour. But Stricker followed a 4-over 76 with a 74 in the second round and missed the cut at The Players. His last missed cut came at the 2009 PGA Championship. Stricker's streak wasn't the only one that came to an end Friday, either. Gary Woodland had been second on the list with 22 consecutive cuts. But he was 6 over after two rounds. Webb Simpson was third at 18 in a row, but also went home after back-to-back 73s. Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar were tied for fourth at 16 consecutive cuts. Mahan's streak ended after a 4-over 76 on Friday, leaving Kuchar as the new leader. ---(equals) ST. SIMONS SUCCESS: The leaderboard Friday was dotted with guys who live just a few miles from each other in the St. Simons Island community in southern Georgia. Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Harris English and Jonathan Byrd all call the 18-square-mile resort island home. They routinely practice and play together. ''It's pretty impressive,'' Kuchar said. ''We have got a great crew of guys up in Sea Island. All of us hang out at Frederica Golf Club.'' Kuchar and Johnson played Frederica early last week. Kuchar and English will be paired together in the third round Saturday. Johnson shot a 6-under 66 in the second round and was in a three-way tie at 8 under. Kuchar also was 8 under. English was a shot back, and Byrd was 6 under following a 70 on Friday. ---(equals) MORE WITHDRAWALS: A day after five players withdrew from the tournament, two more walked away during the second round at TPC Sawgrass. Scott Verplank withdrew after four holes because of an injured left wrist, and Briny Baird withdrew after 13 holes because of a shoulder injury. Verplank quit after back to back double-bogeys left him 6 over for the tournament. Baird walked away after consecutive bogeys dropped him to 7 over. They followed two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, Simon Dyson, Hunter Haas, Paul Casey and D.A. Points out the door. Those five withdrew during the opening round Thursday. ---(equals) DIVOTS: D.J. Trahan was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, not that it really mattered. Trahan was 10 over following the second round, well outside the cut. ... Ben Crane shot 67-78 and missed the cut at 1 over. He was the only golfer who headed home Friday after ending the first round on the leaderboard. ... The second-round leader or co-leader has won The Players nine times in 38 years, most recently when Phil Mickelson did it in 2007.
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