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Putting woes overshadow some vintage Tiger Woods in second round at Memorial

DUBLIN, Ohio -- There were a few throwbacks to the old days, when Tiger Woods knocked down flags and stirred a frenzy in the gallery with his ability to mesmerize with shot after amazing shot.

And then there was the reality of today, the vagaries of golf that often don't match up great ballstriking with excellent putting.

The fact that Woods walked off the Muirfield Village Golf Club course early Friday evening feeling a tinge disappointed -- and later headed to the practice putting green in near darkness -- says something about what might have been during the second round of the Memorial on Friday.

"I did not putt well today," Woods said. "It could have easily been a nice, little 62 or 63. I turned it into a 67."

That wasn't hyperbole. Woods had it going, settling for a 5-under-par 67 that moved him to 5 under for the tournament and in a tie for 24th place, six strokes behind leaders Kyle Stanley and Joaquin Niemann.

Woods, playing his ninth tournament of the year in his comeback from spinal fusion surgery, hit 14 of 18 greens, with two of those approach shots in the fringe.

The only true misses were in a bunker at the eighth hole and when he was barely off the fringe at the 17th, where he hit a poor chip and then missed a 3-footer for par.

But there were five birdies and an epic hole-out for eagle on the par-5 11th, where Woods spun a 56-degree wedge back into the hole from 97 yards. That sent the spectators into hysteria. And when his approach to the par-3 12th hit the flag and stopped 6 feet away, you sensed one of those special Woods rounds.

Then the horn sounded, stopping play for 90 minutes due to a dangerous weather situation. When play resumed, Woods missed the 6-footer at the 12th then missed a 4-footer after another beautiful approach to the 13th.

"Yeah, I wanted to hit that putt," Woods said of the birdie chance at the 12th. "I wanted to keep it going because I was in the rhythm of the round. It's weird to say, but this is my first delay of the year coming back out. And I was a little bit worried about how my back was going to feel.

"I was hoping this delay wouldn't be that long. I didn't really sit down. I was walking, pacing back and forth, trying to keep it loose, trying to keep myself warm, because these are things that I don't know yet. This is new, which is strange; I did it for 20-some-odd years. You would think I would understand it, but this is different for me."

Players were given time to warm up, and Woods said he had no issues. But he had those putting mishaps -- he did make a 13-footer from the fringe at the 15th -- and then missed from 9 feet at the 16th after nearly acing the par-3.

Woods said he was at a loss to explain the putting issues.

"I'm going to go right now and figure it out," he said.

The round started ominously, with a 3-putt bogey at the first, but then Woods made birdies at the third, fifth, seventh and ninth, the last from 15 feet. He missed a 12-footer at the 10th, then came the eagle at the 11th and the very realistic shot at something in the low 60s.

Instead, Woods settled for his first sub-70 round at Muirfield Village since he closed with a 67 in 2012 and captured his fifth victory at the Memorial.

After saying Thursday that he had some issues with lower back stiffness at the start of his opening round, Woods said all was fine Friday.

"I felt loose," he said. "I did my normal routine, and I felt good. Just going to have days where I just am not quite there."

Since playing the first seven holes of the tournament in 4 over, Woods has gone 9 under over the subsequent 29 holes.

And it could have been even better.

Woods will be paired for the third round with Masters champion Patrick Reed at 11:20 a.m. ET. Stanley and Niemann tee off at 1:50 p.m.