He swore he wasn’t disappointed to come up short, shooting 9-under-par 61.
“Disappointed? Absolutely not,” he said.
Then he cracked, “A 61’s pretty good. I’m not bummed.”
Like a pitcher having to settle for a shutout instead of a perfect game, Woods could console himself by tying his career best and building a seven-shot lead Friday through 36 holes at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Pursuing his eighth victory at Firestone Country Club, Woods opened birdie-eagle – stuffing an approach to 3 feet at the first hole and holing a 20-footer for 3 at the par-5 second. He had two more birdies on the front nine, and had four in a row to start the back nine in a light rain.
Needing to go only 2-under over his last five holes, he missed birdie putts inside 10 feet at 15 and 17. He saved par on the last with a 26-footer after an errant drive and a shot that hit into the trees and ended up in a bare spot short and right of the green.
“How about just pleased?” he said, when asked to rate the round. “I’m very happy I was able to post that. I just kept thinking, whatever lead I had, ‘Let’s just keep increasing it.’ It’s at seven now, I believe. So that’s not too bad after two days.”
The 61 – matching his career best at the 1999 Byron Nelson, 2005 Buick Open and on the same Firestone course back in 2000 – left him at 13-under 127.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley and Chris Wood, playing the tournament for the first time, were tied for second. They each shot 68.
The last player to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour event was Stuart Appleby in the final round of the Greenbrier Classic in 2010. Al Geiberger was the first in 1977, and Chip Beck, David Duval and Paul Goydos have also accomplished the feat.
Bill Haas shot a 68 and was tied for fourth at 5 under with Henrik Stenson, who had a 70. Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Jason Duffner and Bubba Watson were 4 under.
There have been 27 rounds of 60 in tour events, including Phil Mickelson this year in the Phoenix Open.
In a remarkable career spent in the spotlight, a 59 would have been just another check mark on Woods’ to-do list. Instead, he didn’t think it was even anything special.
“(One of my) top 10 rounds?” he said, repeating the question. “I don’t know about that.”