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Woods sneaks into weekend with closing birdie

Tiger Woods birdied his final hole on Friday to make the cut on the number in his return to the US PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods

The 14-time major champion wrestled four birdies from his last nine holes on the North Course at Torrey Pines, carding a one-under par 71.

That was just enough to make the cut — his first since the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015 where he finished tied for 10th.

Since then Woods has battled back trouble that sidelined him for all of 2016. He is playing his first official tournament since missing the cut here last year in an abortive comeback bid that ended with spinal fusion surgery in April.

Woods was one shot outside the cut line when arrived at his final hole, the par-five ninth.

He was in the right rough off the tee and his second shot left him on the edge of the green, 75 feet from the pin.

He nestled a long first putt a few feet from the cup and made that for birdie, capping a 71 for a total of 143.

“I was grinding my way around the golf course today,” said Woods, who hit just three of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens in regulation. “I didn’t hit it quite as good as I would like to. I fought hard. I was trying to post a number, which I was able to do.”

Woods, who opened the tournament with an even-par 72 on Thursday, struggled off the tee all day.

It was a harbinger of things to come when he sent his first tee shot at least 50 yards left. He laid up in the rough and two-putted for par from about 40 feet.

Then came a disastrous double-bogey six at the par-four 13th, his fourth hole of the day, where another tee shot went left into a scrub hazard.

He took an unplayable lie, then missed the green. His chip rolled through the putting surface.

– Solid turnaround –

Woods responded with four birdies coming home.

He gave his massive gallery — sent scampering several times by his errant drives — something to cheer about for the first time all day when he rolled in a 50-foot birdie bomb at the first hole.

“It was nice to get one to fall in there and get something positive going into the back nine,” Woods said.

He got back to even par with a birdie at the fifth, a short par-five, where a solid drive trickled into the first cut of rough and his second shot left him off the green. A stellar chip left him an easy birdie.

He got up and down for birdie at the seventh, but was back outside the cut line after a bogey at the par-three eighth.

“I was just trying to get under par for the day,” he said of his inward push. “I thought that would be a good, solid turnaround from being two-over at the turn.

“It was tough out there,” added Woods, who was 10-shots off the 36-hole lead held by American Ryan Palmer, who carded a five-under par 67 on the North Course for an 11-under total of 133.

Spain’s defending champion Jon Rahm, who could seize the world number one ranking from Dustin Johnson with a victory, carded a six-under 66 and was alone in second on 134.

Woods was looking forward to testing his game under pressure over two more rounds.

“It’s one thing to do it at home, it’s totally another thing to do it out here,” he said. “These guys are all going low and I haven’t done that in a long time.”

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