Tiger Woods hasn't exactly had an ideal start to 2013.
A nightmarish beginning at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship was compounded by a two-stroke penalty and a critical bogey late, which resulted in Woods struggling to a 3-over-par 75 in Round 2.
He ended up missing the cut by one shot.
In what was meant to be a highly anticipated showdown with Tiger and current world No. 1 Rory McIlroy paired together, this tournament has definitely lost some of its luster.
McIlroy missed the cut himself after shooting his second consecutive 75 to finish at 6-over.
After three bogeys in his first seven holes, the Northern Irish prodigy responded with birdies on the eighth and ninth. However, he couldn't keep up the momentum, coming home in two-over 38 on the back side.
Armed with new Nike equipment, McIlroy did nothing to dismiss concerns about how the new clubs would affect his game. He had 30 putts or more on both days, and even switched back to his old Scotty Cameron putter to no avail.
The biggest story on Day 2, though, was the penalty Tiger suffered at the par-4 fifth hole. The infraction resulted in a triple bogey for Woods—coming after three bogeys on his first four holes.
The bizarre situation at No. 5 started when a wayward tee shot sailed into some thick grass. By rule, if the ball is embedded—which Woods and playing partner Martin Kaymer determined it indeed was—it is a free drop.
European Tour rules official Andy McPhee informed Woods that his ball was actually in a sandy area, and that he therefore wasn't allowed such relief (via ESPN). The penalty was assessed on the 11th hole.
Guyism.com provided a nice screenshot of the situation as it unfolded. Sand is definitely seen exploding from where Woods impacts the ball, but the ball does appear to be nestled deep in the grass.
Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard captured the point of impact:
This is another example of the quirky and seemingly unfair rules of golf at work.
But even with the knowledge of that penalty weighing on his mind in the midst of a lackluster round, Woods was able to conjure up some old magic. Birdies at 14, 15 and 16 got him back on the cut line at 2-over par, which meant he simply needed to par-in to make it to the weekend.
Unfortunately, a bogey at the par-4 17th sealed his fate.
Steve Elling of The National captured Kaymer's thoughts on Tiger's ruling, which he didn't think was fair. Kaymer also professed how big of a blow his absence is to everyone involved in the event.
Playing partner Kaymer: "It's a shame for everyone, the people here, the tournament, the European Tour. Especially the way he fought back."— Steve Elling (@EllingYelling) January 18, 2013
Not much changed from Day 1 for Tiger in terms of how he struggled with ball-striking.
For the second consecutive round, he found less than half of the fairways in regulation and managed to hit just nine out of 18 greens. He only got three of those nine scrambling attempts up-and-down.
One positive is that Woods is converting many of his birdie opportunities and is rolling it well with his putter, which is where his biggest shortcoming was last year.
It's still very early, so if Tiger can shake off this early rust and continue draining putts, he should be able to recover from this letdown.