MEXICO CITY — Throughout his career, Tiger Woods has called upon one trait that has proven as essential to his success as any golf club he’s ever placed in his staff bag.
Whether dealing with an injury, slump, deficit and now his two children, Woods rarely loses control or feels helpless because of one tenet he follows — stay patient.
It has served him well through four knee surgeries and four surgeries on his back, the latest a spinal fusion procedure.
This week he’s had to adjust to playing 7,800 feet above sea level and get acquainted quickly with Club de Golf Chapultepec, a course he saw for the first time Tuesday.
Then after an even-par 71 in Thursday’s first round of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship left him eight shots behind the leader, Woods didn’t blink. As he said, there was a lot of golf to be played.
Once again, his patience is paying off. Woods stormed up the leaderboard Friday with a 5-under-par 66. He’ll start the third round six shots behind pace-setting Dustin Johnson, who stood at 11 under after rounds of 64-67.
In a round marred only by a three-putt for bogey on the 17th, Woods became more familiar with the golf course, was more comfortable in the thin air, felt better hitting all the shots in his bag.
All it took was some time.
“It wasn’t my natural strong suit, that’s for sure,” Woods said of being patient. “My dad was a very, very patient man and I learned by just being around him. As I matured throughout the game, I’ve gotten a little bit more patient, especially since having kids. That will definitely test one’s patience.”
Early in Friday’s second round, Woods fell 10 shots behind Rory McIlroy and nine behind Johnson, two players with enormous firepower and a winning pedigree. But Woods wasn’t about to press.
“Oh, no, no, no. Just be patient with it around this golf course because, yeah, you can shoot the odd 64, 65, 63 around this golf course, but you also can shoot something in the mid- to high-70s very quickly,” Woods said. “It just doesn’t take much, just takes a couple bad drives here and there, hit in these trees and can’t get out of them, get in the wrong spot.”
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Woods found few wrong spots during the second round, in large part because he’s taking a more cautious approach of attack on this tree-lined course. While others are pulling driver on most every tee shot, Woods is dissecting the course with precision, using long irons and his 3-wood and 5-wood off the tee more often.
He’ll continue to do so on the weekend.
“Just keep plodding along,” Woods said. “I’m just trying to keep the ball in front of me and then just make a few putts.”
It’s patiently working so far.