A furious back-nine rally wasn't enough to keep Tiger Woods from missing the cut Friday in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates.
Woods appeared to have shot a 1-over-par 73, giving him a 36-hole total of 1-over 145 -- one stroke below the cut line. However, earlier in the round, at the par-4 fifth hole, he took an illegal drop from what he and playing partner Martin Kaymer deemed an embedded ball in a sandy area right of the fairway. Woods punched back into the fairway and eventually made what he thought was a bogey.
However, spectators alerted tournament officials about a possible rules infraction. European Tour chief referee Andy McPhee determined that Tiger was not allowed to take a free drop from the sand and Woods was informed of the ruling walking off the 11th hole.
"They ruled I committed an infraction," said a calm and composed Woods afterward. "Consequently I was given a two-shot penalty."
McPhee met with Woods after the round to explain why he was not entitled to free relief.
"It is very specific," he said. "It only applies to (mowed) ground, not in a sandy area."
As a result, Woods sustained a triple-bogey 7 and shot 75, which put him one stroke above the cut line of 2-over 146. It marked his first missed cut in 21 prior European Tour starts.
"It's tough because I didn't get off to a very good start, but I battled back," said Woods, who bogeyed three of the first four holes on Friday. "It wasn't enough."
It was difficult way to end the day and tournament for Woods, who tied for third last year. This marked his first event of the 2013 season.
Paired with Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer for the second-straight day, the group were late starters off the first tee. With a massive gallery following on a windless, sunny day, Tiger bogeyed the par-4 first and par-5 second, finding a bunker with a flop shot on his third shot at the latter and couldn't get up and down.
After saving par at the par-4 third, Woods also bogeyed the 176-yard, par-3 fourth, finding the back-left bunker and couldn't convert an eight-foot putt. Then came the fifth hole, where he blocked a driver into the desert sand and vegetation.
Tiger steadied with pars at the sixth and seventh holes, lipping out a seven-foot birdie try at the 194-yard, par-3 latter, wasting a brilliant tee shot. But he regained a shot at the par-5 eighth, where his second shot from 282 yards rolled into the front bunker, and he hit a wonderful explosion shot three feet to record his first birdie of the round.
Woods parred the ninth hole to make the turn in 3-over 39. Needing to make a move to have any chance of surviving the cut, Tiger did just that, getting up-and-down from behind the green for birdie at the par-5 10th hole. A poor drive resulted in a bogey at the par-4 11th, then Woods carded two-straight pars.
He began his back-nine charge at the par-4 14th, where he holed a 20-foot birdie putt. At the 181-yard, par-3 15th, Tiger knocked his tee shot 12 feet from the cup and drained the putt. He made it three-in-a-row at the par-4 16th, where he drove into the left fairway bunker, blasted 20 feet left of the hole, and poured in the putt.
However, at the 482-yard, par-4 17th, Woods hooked his drive, dropping his club, missed the green and almost holed a long par putt. Tiger two-putted the par-5 18th hole for a par, missing an 18-foot birdie attempt from below the hole. For the round, Woods hit 9 of 18 greens in regulation and used 28 putts.
Tiger will return to action next week, where he makes his first PGA Tour start of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Ca.