Tiger Woods follows through on his tee shot at the second hole Friday during… (Robert Galbraith / Reuters )
Reporting from San Martin, Calif. -- All week long, Tiger Woods has been talking about practicing golf back in Florida. About feeling strong. About hitting the ball well.
The problem is, no one could see much improvement during the first round of the Frys.com Open.
"It's easy to do at home," he said. "It's a little harder to do out here."
So the former No. 1 player needed to prove himself Friday, if only to avoid missing the cut. The result was hardly magical, but Woods sank just enough putts and steered past just enough bunkers to shoot a respectable three-under-par 68 at the CordeValle Golf Club.
At one under, he is safe, although a portion of the field will finish a weather-shortened second round Saturday.
"I don't like missing cuts," Woods said. "Period."
As for actually contending, that would require a much bigger jump.
Paul Casey holds the lead at eight under, a performance made all the more impressive by the fact that he still feels jet-lagged after winning in South Korea last week and has been "waking up in the middle of the night, which is probably the middle of the day."
The English golfer gave at least some credit to improving conditions at CordeValle. Several days of rain — and two-plus hours of fog delay Friday — gave way to sunny skies all afternoon.
"The greens were prefect," Casey said. "You're not going to get greens any better."
That might have helped Woods, too, his balky putter settling down.
"I hit one bad putt . . . and that was it," he said. "Every other putt was on line."
It was a much-needed development. After a miserable performance at the PGA Championship in August — and some time off to get healthy — he faced missing two cuts in a row for the first time in his professional career.
Starting on the back nine, Woods birdied 11, 14, 15 and 16. There was a hiccup on 18 with a bad tee shot that led to a bogey, but a well-hit five-wood on his final hole, the ninth, set up another birdie.
Afterward, Woods talked about the "progression" of resurrecting his career. It started with those practice rounds and now shifts to performing under pressure.
Getting that pesky cut line out of the way was a step in the right direction.
"If you miss the cut, that means you can't win the tournament over the weekend," he said. "I've got a shot at it this weekend."