Tiger Woods struggles with back issues but makes Memorial cut

Tony Finau and Ryan Palmer overcame slow starts to share the lead at the halfway point

DUBLIN, OHIO - JULY 17: Tiger Woods of the United States wipes his forehead on the fourth green during the second round of The Memorial Tournament on July 17, 2020 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.   Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/AFP

Tiger Woods struggled with back issues on his way to a four-over par 76 on Friday, but avoided missing the cut at the Memorial tournament for the first time.

The reigning Masters champion, playing his first PGA event since February after a tour shutdown in March over the coronavirus pandemic, had never missed the cut in 17 prior starts at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

But the 15-time major winner, whose total ranks second only to the 18 won by Memorial host Jack Nicklaus, made five bogeys and a double-bogey against three birdies in round two after an opening 71 on Thursday and had a long afternoon wait to know that record would remain intact.

"Not very good," Woods, 44, said. "I 3-putted two holes early. Whatever momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and struggled the rest of the day."

Woods said his back began bothering him when he was warming up before the round, noting, "It's going to happen more times than not these days."

His back, which like his knees has been surgically repaired multiple times, affected his swing, saying, "It was a bit of a struggle."

Woods had not played since February at Riviera and the back issues come with the year's first major in a Covid-19 shuffled schedule coming on August 6-9 at the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.

Woods stood on three-over par 147 after 36 holes, just on the projected cut line as the last players teed off in the round.

"I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow," Woods said. "Hopefully the cut will fall one more and I'll have the opportunity."

Tony Finau and Ryan Palmer overcame slow starts to share the lead at the halfway point.

Starting on the back nine, overnight leader Finau struggled out of the gate with bogeys on two of his first three holes.

But momentum shifted his direction when he saved par with a greenside bunker shot out of an awkward stance on the par-three fourth that rolled within inches of the hole.

He went on to birdie three of his final five holes and sits atop the leaderboard with Palmer at nine-under-par 135 heading into the weekend.

"I was very pleased to finish that way," said Finau, who is looking to capture an elusive second win after claiming victory at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016.

"At the end of the day, still at the top of the leaderboard. Pretty satisfied."

His countryman Palmer suffered his first bogey of the tournament on his second hole but went error-free the rest of the way to card a 68 under sunny skies at the Muirfield Village Golf Club.