Tough battle for Tiger

The former world No 1 has never missed the halfway cut in 16 previous appearances at TPC Sawgrass, although he has withdrawn twice through injury, and a birdie at his last hole looked set to extend that sequence.

Woods was again far from fluent and offset five birdies with as many bogeys through 17 holes, and he arrived at the par-five ninth on one over par – one outside the projected cut mark.

But after pitching to nine feet, Woods held his nerve to roll in the putt before unleashing a trademark fist-pump that has been seen only rarely over his torrid last 18 months.

The closing birdie closed out a battling one-under 71 which is expected to be just enough for him to play another 36 holes, and he admitted his celebration at the ninth was more of an expression of relief.

Making his debut at the Sky Cart, Woods told Sarah Stirk: “It was probably to make the cut on the number. I figured it was probably not going to go to one over. We knew that playing the last couple of holes I needed to make birdie on one of the last two holes and I did.

“I haven’t gotten a lot out of my rounds. Each round I should have been??probably a few under par. I just need to start capitalising on my??opportunities.”

With the leaderboard tightly-packed behind early clubhouse leader Kevin Na on eight under, Woods feels that anybody who survives the cut will have a chance to win over the weekend.

“As of right now, if it stays the way it’s at, literally anybody who makes the cut can win the golf tournament,” Woods added. “I don’t know what the lead is going to be at the end of the day, but right now there are over 70 guys within seven shots of each other. That’s unheard of.”

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