PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods appeared at a loss to explain a career first: hitting two balls into the water at TPC Sawgrass' par-3 17th.
The iconic island green hole has been the scene of numerous disasters dating to the Players Championship's debut at the course in 1982, but usually not in the benign conditions Woods faced Friday morning.
Coming off his third birdie of the second round and with the crowd buzzing all around him, Woods was just two shots out of the lead and in a tie for eighth.
A few minutes later, he was in 60th place after his first quadruple-bogey 7 ever on the hole and just his second on a par-3 hole in his PGA Tour career.
Golf is hard.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2019
Tiger Woods puts two in the water on No. 17. 💦 pic.twitter.com/xEqCMx04Z0
Still, Woods was the only player in the morning wave to hit it in the water Friday. There were 12 shots that went into the water during the opening round. For the day, only five tee shots found the water at the 17th and six total -- tying the fewest for any round.
"Both shots I'm just trying to hit the ball into the slope [on the green] and just walk away with a 20-, 25-footer and move on about my business," Woods said after shooting 71 to finish at 141, 3 under par. "The second one I hit too flat and too hot. But the first one from the regular tee and was a good shot, it just flew a little bit too far."
Woods used a pitching wedge from 146 yards but pulled it slightly, which meant the ball flew to the back of the green, rolled along the walkway and into the water.
He then went to the drop area, where the distance to the flag was 80 yards. Woods had a sand wedge and again hit it too strong, as the ball bounced once and into the water. After another wedge finally found the green, he two-putted for a 7.
Entering the day, Woods had hit just four balls in the water at the 17th hole in 68 previous rounds in the tournament. That means he's now hit three of his six balls in the water in the past three rounds, as Woods found the pond during the final round last year, stalling a charge. He tied for 11th.
Starting at the 10th hole, Woods birdied the 12th, 13th and 16th holes to climb the leaderboard. His birdie at the par-5 16th had a large gathering of spectators worked up as he stepped to the No. 17 tee first with honors. Going first turned out to be a bad thing, as Woods said he might have misjudged what he needed to do.
"I would have taken more off it, I probably would have taken another 5 [yards] off of that," he said. "It got up in the wind and it just rode it. It kind of flatlined on me just a little bit, just a little pitching wedge.
"I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that, and I was bound and determined to get it all back and get it back to 5 [under], and I thought that would have been a hell of a fight," Woods said. "Ended up getting back to 3 [under], still was a good fight to get to that point . .. I just need to go out there and put it together this weekend, because right now literally anybody who makes the cut has got a chance to win this tournament."
Woods made no bogeys after the mishap at the 17th, making birdies at the second and seventh holes. He was tied for 31st as afternoon play progressed.
Prior to Friday, Woods had gone 20 years since making a quadruple-bogey on a par-3, doing so at the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic during the third round on the 17th hole. And he had hit just four balls in the water total prior to Friday at the 17th.
"Numberwise and clubwise, it shouldn't be that hard," he said. "But we all know if you land it on top it's got a good chance of getting out of here. And that's the tricky part, it's just a wedge and you want to get it somewhere up there where you got a chance to make birdie, but you just can't afford to land it too far up on top."
The 80-time PGA Tour winner opened the tournament Thursday with a 2-under-par 70. In 17 previous appearances at the tournament, Woods, 43, had five top-10 finishes, including victories in 2001 and 2013.
Woods was not on the commitment list for next week's Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, where he tied for second last year. He is likely to play the WGC-Dell Match Play in two weeks in Austin, Texas.