PEBBLE BEACH, CA. -- Tiger Woods' game plan appeared the be paying off for most of Friday at Pebble Beach.
The 15-time major champion was plodding away, playing conservatively and hoping to give himself some putts from below the hole to take advantage of. Those opportunities likely would come during Woods' back nine -- the course's front -- but he was unable to vault himself into contention. Woods missed makeable birdie putts on holes 1, 2, 4 and 6 and was sitting at 1-under-par for the day and 2-under-par for the championship.
Still, he strolled to the Par-4 eighth trailing Justin Rose by only five strokes after carding 1 birdie and 15 pars in his first 16 holes.
Then, things started to slip away.
After splitting the fairway with his tee shot, Woods' approach ended up short of the green in the thick rough. His flew his third shot well past the hole, leaving him 15 feet for par. A putt he was unable to convert.
Woods compounded the mistake on his final hole of the day by ripping his drive left and into the fairway bunker. His second shot landed short and left of the green, leaving him with 54 yards to get up and down to get into the clubhouse at 1-under-par. Woods' third shot was a good effort, leaving him with seven feet for par. The putt slid by the left edge and Woods tapped in for a bogey-bogey finish that has him at even par for the tournament and seven shots back of Rose.
"Yeah, I'm a little hot right now," Woods said after his late slip-up.
The 43-year-old lost 2.09 strokes putting to the field in Round 2, chalking it up to missing in the wrong spots throughout the round.
"Yeah, I had a couple opportunities there," Woods said after the round. "I missed a couple. But overall I kept leaving myself above the hole. And unlike yesterday, when I missed it I missed the correct spots below the hole, today I never had that many looks from below the hole. And the one I did have, I made at 11."
With Pebble Beach likely to get firmer and faster over the weekend, Woods isn't planning on changing his approach despite being seven strokes off the lead.
"No, no. You have your opportunities the first seven holes to get after it," Woods said. "And after that, it's plod away. There's some tough, tough green complexes. So if you're in the wrong spot, you've got to be defensive."
The conservative approach has kept Woods within shouting distance of the leaders, but his iron play will need to be a lot crisper over the weekend if he wants to be a factor. Through two rounds, Woods is ranked 48th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, picking up only 1.14 strokes on the field.
In order to gain ground at Pebble Beach, Woods needs to give himself scoring opportunities on a course that should get tougher as the championship draws on.
The opportunities were there on Friday. But the putts didn't fall and now Woods is hoping Pebble can bear its teeth and bring the leaders back to him.