PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — No one knows Tiger Woods’ game better than his caddie, Joe LaCava.
So LaCava didn’t need to hear Woods tell reporters he wasn’t sharp after the indifferent 2-over 73 he shot in the second round of the Genesis Invitational on Friday at Riviera Country Club for confirmation.
“Based on what I saw, I don’t think he’s playing Zozo [or] Presidents Cup quality of golf at this moment,” LaCava told The Post, referring to Woods’ October win at the Zozo in Japan and the Presidents Cup in Australia two months later. “But we’re hoping that turns in that direction over the weekend.”
When Woods, playing in the morning wave of tee times Friday, finished his round to stand at even-par for the tournament, he was seven shots back. He ended up nine behind leader Matt Kuchar, who shot a 69.
It looks very much as if Woods’ pursuit of his PGA Tour-record 83rd career victory will move on to the next event he plays — most likely the Arnold Palmer Invitational next month, since he opted on Friday not to commit to play in next week’s WGC-Mexico.
Woods’ round, which began on the 10th hole, took a bad turn on the 15th when he took double bogey after he chunked a shot into a greenside bunker.
“I made some pretty bad mistakes out there with balls in the fairway,” Wood said. “I had a wedge in my hand at 15 and made double there, sand wedge on [number] three and made bogey there. Three runaway shots with wedges, something I rarely ever do. Not very good.”
Woods, who hit nine of 14 fairways and just eight of 18 greens Friday, climbed back to 3-under with birdies on Nos. 18 and 1. He then took bogeys on Nos. 3, 4 and 6 to fade. It was a disappointing turn of events after his lightning-quick start Thursday that included an eagle on his first hole, 3-under through five holes and 4-under though eight. Since that eight-hole start, Woods went 4-over in 28 holes.
“I just haven’t been as sharp as I need to be,” Woods said. “When I did get off to a great start [Thursday], I didn’t keep it going. It’s not that complicated, I just need to clean it up, but I’m now pretty far back and I have to make a lot of birdies this weekend.”
Does he have a hot round in him for Saturday to make a move?
“Good question,” LaCava said. “Based on the first nine holes [Thursday], of course I can see that. You never count this guy out. We’ve got a long way to go. He can go on a little bit of a run. Scotty [Adam Scott] shot 64 [on Friday]. You can do it, but you’ve got to start making some putts. He was just not making those five- and six-footers to keep the round going. We’ve missed a half-dozen of those.
“If he even makes half of them, he’s 3- or 4-under. Do I feel like he should be leading the tournament? No. But I think the worst-case scenario is he should be 3- or 4-under.”
Woods lamented Thursday how little he has been able to practice because his duties as the tournament host (his TGR Foundation is the beneficiary) have taken a lot of his time.
“He doesn’t want to make excuses and nor do I,” LaCava said. “Did it bite into some of his practice time and a little bit of his recuperation time? Sure, it did. But that goes with the deal. You’re hosting the event. You’re the face of the foundation. When you host, there are obligations.”
“It’s not the first tournament I’ve hosted,” Woods said Friday. “I’ve been doing this for a very long time and this is no different.”
Translation: No excuses.