LOUISVILLE Kentucky (Reuters) - A badly out-of-sorts Tiger Woods missed the fourth major cut of his professional career after again struggling with his game in the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday.
At a rain-sodden Valhalla Golf Club playing ultra-long, the American former world number one dropped four shots in his first seven holes before carding a three-over-par 74 to make an early exit from the year's fourth and final major.
"That was tough," the 38-year-old American told reporters after a round that included just two birdies, three bogeys and a double. "I hit a lot of shots out there, 74 of them. It was a long day."
Woods only pronounced himself fit to compete at Valhalla on the eve of the tournament following a back scare he suffered at last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
The 14-times major champion, who had surgery in March to treat a pinched nerve in his back, looked rusty in both rounds at the PGA Championship as he posted a six-over total of 148.
With the cut projected to fall at one-over, Woods comfortably missed out on advancing into the third round.
By some distance the leading player of his generation and arguably of all time, he had previously missed the cut as a professional at the 2006 U.S. Open, 2009 British Open and 2011 PGA Championship.
"I tried as hard as I could," said Woods. "That's about all I got. Unfortunately, just didn't play well. So consequently a pair of 74s is not very good.
"I just need to get stronger. Obviously by playing, you can't burn the candle at both ends. I need to get stronger physically and be back to where I was."
Asked how his back held up during the second round, Woods replied: "It was sore. No doubt it was sore. It went out on me on the range. Just had to play through it."
He gave no indication as to when he would next play in a tournament, saying: "I just need to get stronger first. We'll see from there."
Woods had said after the opening round that he needed to get to at least one under par to "be right in the ball game" but he swiftly went in the opposite direction on Friday as he bogeyed the fourth before running up a double at the par-four sixth.
Repeatedly spraying the ball off the tee and struggling on Valhalla's greens, Woods dropped another shot at the par-five seventh, where his drive sailed well right, before reaching the turn in four-over 39.
At that point, his body language reflected the state of his game but he found better rhythm after the turn and recorded his first birdie in 26 holes when he drained a 10-footer at the par-four 15th.
He then dropped another shot at the 16th before signing off with a birdie at the par-five last.
"It's very frustrating because the golf course is gettable," Woods said of his inability to take advantage of the receptive conditions. "It was as soft as it could be today."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)