CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — Tiger Woods didn’t entirely hurt his chances in the British Open.
Better yet, he didn’t hurt anyone in the gallery.
Woods still walked away on Friday realizing he made it a little tougher on the weekend at Carnoustie if he wants to end a decade without winning a major. A rugged start, a strong recovery, a few putts for birdie, a few he missed for par, and it added to an even-par 71.
“I could have cleaned up the round a little bit,” he said.
He was at least six shots behind Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, who took double bogey on the 18th hole, with just under half the field still on the course.
The wildest moment on a wet day in Scotland came on the second hole, when Woods hit his drive well to the right on the side of a dune. The grass was deep enough that it was certain to twist the club on impact. Woods asked the gallery to move back because he would have to start it to the right with the golf ball well above his feet.
The shot came out hot and right at them. There was no evidence it hit anyone — no one was hurt, anyway — because the ball at least kept going in the rough.
Woods was thankful.
“I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it,” he said. “I was very, very fortunate that it got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”
He still made bogey. He made another bogey on the next hole, and just like that he was on the cut line.
Woods answered with a pair of birdies, and it was give-and-take the rest of the way.
The only time he was under par for his round was after a 5-iron easily cleared the Spectacle bunkers on the par-5 14th and rolled onto the green to a front pin, leaving him an 18-foot eagle putt. He missed and made birdie.
Two holes later, he found a pot bunker right of the par-3 16th and made bogey.
And on the final hole, he hit an approach he judged perfectly to about 10 feet pin-high. He missed.
“I played a little bit better yesterday,” Woods said of his matching scores for the opening two rounds. “Today wasn’t quite as good, but I finally birdied the par 5.”
He was six shots behind when he finished and figured the margin would be a little wider, which it was. Woods and the rest of the early starters faced an entire round of light rain, while it cleared out for the afternoon.
“It will be a pretty packed leaderboard, and I’m certainly right there in it,” Woods said.
Typical of his first full season since 2015 because of back surgeries, the challenge is more the number of players in front of him than the deficit he faces. This is his 12th tournament of the year, and Woods has been among the top 10 just once — the Valspar Championship in March — going into the weekend.
The one shot Woods would like to have back was the 13th, where he made a 15-foot putt for par. He left it well short, behind a bunker, and had to play a pitch over the top of the bunker and onto the green.
The pin was toward the center of the green. Woods had a 9-iron. He expected better.
“There were a few shots I hit poorly out there. That was one of them,” Woods said. “I didn’t really draw a bad lie on the tee box.”