(Reuters) - While Nick Watney charged into an early one-shot lead in Friday's second round of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, a frustrated Tiger Woods was likely to miss the cut.
Former world number one Woods battled to a one-over-par 73 at Quail Hollow Club, failing to birdie any of the four-par-five holes and finishing two strokes outside the projected cutline.
The greatest player of his generation and arguably the best of all time, Woods has missed just seven cuts as a professional, most recently at last year's PGA Championship in Atlanta.
"The entire week I didn't play the par-fives well," Woods told reporters after parring his last nine holes to post an even-par total of 144, a distant 12 strokes behind fellow American Watney who fired an eight-under 64.
"You just can't do that, especially when all of them are reachable with irons. I didn't take care of the par-fives, missed a couple of other little short ones for birdie and consequently got no momentum during the round."
Asked to explain why he had struggled, Woods replied: "It all has to do with my setup. If I get over the golf ball and I feel uncomfortable, I hit it great.
"It's just that I get out there and I want to get comfortable, and I follow my old stuff, and I hit it awful."
The 14-times major champion, playing his first PGA Tour event since last month's Masters, then reiterated what has become a mantra for him as he strives to regain the form that once saw him dominate the game.
"I know what I need to do, it's just I need more (repetitions) doing it," said Woods, who has been grooving a new swing with coach Sean Foley over the last two years.
"Obviously we've changed a bunch of different things, and every now and again I fall into the same stuff, old stuff. That doesn't work with a combo platter of old and new.
"It takes time to get rid of old patterns. It takes hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of golf balls but eventually it comes around. I've had my share of successes, and I know it's coming."
While Woods struggled on the challenging Quail Hollow layout, four-times PGA Tour champion Watney surged to the top of the leaderboard with a superb 64 that included seven birdies, an eagle at the par-five 15th and a lone bogey.
"This was just really, really good ball striking," Watney said after posting a 12-under total of 132 to finish one ahead of compatriot Webb Simpson (68).
"I hit a bunch of shots close. I hit it on (the green in two on) a few par-fives, so I'm very pleased with that. I putted well, but I wasn't making it from 30 feet all day. The greens are pretty soft and they're very, very good so, if you hit a putt on line, it's going to go in."
Former British Open champion Stewart Cink carded a 69 to sit two strokes off the pace with Ben Crane (64) at 10 under, four shots better than U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy who improved on his opening 70 with a 68.
British world number three Lee Westwood and four-times major champion Phil Mickelson were among the day's late starters.
The cut was projected to fall at two under with former major winners Angel Cabrera, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir among those likely to miss out.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)
Baucus & Hatch Grill IRS Commissioners Who Don't Know Anything: "That's A Lie By Omission" | Greg Hengler