Tiger Woods is far from playing his best golf. Even so, he's not that far out of the lead.
Seven-time winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, Woods carded a two-under-par 70 on the Championship Course to complete 36 holes in five-under 139. That leaves him tied for seventh place and four strokes behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Bill Haas.
Woods could only lament what might have been, however; as he made a mess of a fine round with bogeys on his last three holes after he had climbed within one stroke of the lead.
"I played way better than what I scored today," said Woods, the defending champion and No. 2 player in the world. "I missed a couple of short ones, and I had a rough finish. The score doesn't indicate how well I played today, so that's a good positive."
The highlights for Woods included a birdie at the first, an eagle at the par-five sixth hole and birdie putts of 13 and 19 feet, respectively, at Nos. 11 and 13 to reach eight under par. Poor tee balls derailed his surge, however. His drive into a fairway bunker at the easy par-five 16th led to an approach into the water. He pulled his approach at the par-three 17th way left and couldn't get up and down. Then he was forced to lay up at No. 18 after driving into the right rough and couldn't convert a 30-foot par save.
"They've never been easy," Woods said of the final two holes, which he has played in four over so far. "I've sort of made my share of mistakes on the last few holes the last couple days, and I need to clean that up."
Despite being aggravated by the finish, Woods remained upbeat about his prospects of winning for an eighth time in this tournament, which would tie Sam Snead's PGA TOUR record for victories in one event.
"Well, now I'm four back. I was up, at one point, one back and right there. The good news is we've got 36 holes to go," said Woods, who in his seven wins has trailed after 36 holes three times. "We've got a long way to go. And certainly four shots can be made up."