SAN DIEGO -- He will tee off early Saturday, and far removed from the leaders. And to think that Tiger Woods is OK with that shows how much things have changed after numerous injuries and comebacks.
Woods was obviously pleased after he rallied over his final nine holes Friday to make the 36-hole cut -- on the number -- at the Farmers Insurance Open.
A seven-time winner of the tournament, Woods made four birdies on the front side of the North Course at Torrey Pines (his final nine), including a two-putt birdie from 90 feet on his last hole.
The 1-under-par 71 put him at 1-under 143 for the tournament and 10 strokes behind leader Ryan Palmer. But playing the weekend was a more immediate and important goal for Woods, who is making his first PGA Tour start in a year and playing just his second event in that time frame.
"I was grinding my way around the golf course today,'' said Woods, who is tied for 65th. "I didn't quite hit it as good as I would like to. I fought hard. I was trying to post a number, which I was able to do today. It was tough.''
Palmer finished eagle-birdie on the North Course for a 5-under 67. Jon Rahm is one shot behind, poised to reach No. 1 in the world. The defending champion birdied two of his last three holes on the North for a 66.
Woods fought his driver all day -- he hit just three fairways, including just one over his final nine holes -- and put himself in a big hole early when he hooked his tee shot at the par-4 13th (his fourth hole) into a Torrey Pines canyon, leading to a double-bogey.
That put the pressure on Woods, as he was at least 3 off the cut line and not offering much hope he could get it going. He settled down and hit a couple of fairways, but couldn't get approach shots close enough to make birdies.
It wasn't until No. 1 -- his 10th hole -- that he holed a 40-footer for his first birdie of the day and things began to turn. He made several good par saves -- he got up and down from off the green seven of nine times -- and then added birdies at the fifth, seventh and ninth holes.
The last became imperative after he made his lone bogey on the back side, when his tee shot on the par-3 eighth came up short. Woods hit the chip too hard, and it skidded to the back of the green, and he two-putted for bogey.
That meant a birdie at the last was necessary. After missing another fairway -- this one to the right -- Woods nailed an iron from 216 yards that stopped some 90 feet from the cup. He rolled his eagle putt to within inches and tapped in for the birdie he needed.
"It was a grind, I fought hard,'' Woods said. "Typical, you know, just me going out there and fighting for whatever I can get.''
The importance was not lost on Woods, who has missed just 17 cuts worldwide -- 16 on the PGA Tour -- in his career. This is the first time he has made a cut in an official event since the 2015 Wyndham Championship, where he tied for 10th.
"Well, it's exactly that,'' Woods said when asked for the positives of making the cut. "It's been a long 12 months. I've been away from it for a very long time. It's nice to get out there and compete and play.
"I'm still getting used to my feels, but that just takes more time under the fire. I still need more rounds under my belt. How far certain shots are going, what my swing feels are going to be for certain shots, certain trajectories ... those are all things a lot of these guys have already built in. They've been playing. I'm just starting out.''
The power exhibited by Woods off the tee last month in the Bahamas, where he returned to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge for the first time in 10 months, is still there. The precision, however, is gone.
Woods mostly has gone to a high fade off the tee, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. But he hit numerous shots left -- the dreaded two-way miss -- with the worst coming at the 13th and leading to a double-bogey.
His first tee shot of the day at the par-5 10th went 65 yards left of the fairway.
Later, when he compensated, he lost several drives well to the right side.
"Yeah, I had the pulls early,'' Woods said. "Actually more like a pull-flip, so it was even worse than that. And then, after I hit a couple of those, I went for the spinner out there and lost a couple to the right, then settled in and hit some good ones, but still not quite right. I need to fix that.''
To that end, Woods has spent time after his rounds practicing, something that was rare in the past few years as he sought to recover from his back surgeries. But the one he had last April -- the spinal fusion -- has so far meant no pain and the ability to swing hard and practice.
"This is a different body, and that's why I'm excited to play the weekend, continue getting used to my feels because they are different,'' Woods said. "I can do it at home and hit certain shots, but come out here in contention and my adrenaline goes up a little bit. I hit the ball further, but how much further?
"And also, on top of that, what are my new feels going to be. And these are things that I'm going to have to learn, and I need more time under the fire of competition.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.