There was a buzz Friday around the tee box of the famous Island Green of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
Cut into one of golf’s iconic arenas, the mid-morning spectators scrambled to find their perfect sightline. The game’s premier attraction, and perhaps the world’s most famous athlete, was coming to the stage.
Tiger Woods was charging up the Friday leaderboard at THE PLAYERS Championship, and the crowd was ready to burst.
Moments later, the anticipated climax turned to shock as not one but two balls hit the top shelf of the green and trickled off the ledge into the gently rippling water.
The run of Tiger, at least for Friday, was over. A guy wearing a full-length tiger costume hung his head. Woods carded a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 146-yard hole.
“The second shot, I hit it too flat,” Woods said of the 80-yard shot from the adjacent drop zone, with his hands on his head as he talked to reporters after the round. “But the first one I was a bit surprised it went that far. … I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that.”
Everything had gone right for Tiger to that point in Friday’s second round. Walking to the 17th tee, he was just two shots behind the leaders and in a tie for eighth. After slipping in a 5-foot birdie putt on 16, he had carded three birdies without a bogey in his day’s first seven holes.
To his credit, Woods rebounded over his final 10 holes, grinding out two more birdies without a bogey to end the round.
Woods’ line for the day — five birdies, 12 pars and one disaster of a quadruple bogey.
“Other than 17 (Friday), I really haven’t done a whole lot wrong,” said Woods, who is 3-under and tied for 31st. “I very easily could be up near that lead, there’s no way I would be leading, but I would be close enough to that lead, given the weekend and the (weather) forecast.”
The weather is expected to worsen on Saturday and Sunday, as the temperature is expected to drop and both the wind and rain could become factors over the weekend.
Midway through Friday’s round, Woods remained the only player in the field to hit a ball into the water at the 17th hole this week.