Tiger Lags in a Movement He Helped Create

When Tiger Woods smashes one off the tee at Bay Hill on Thursday — gets every bit of the club face on the golf ball — chances are he will not be strutting out to the longest drive in the fairway. In fact, he may not be walking to the second longest.

“I’ll be the Corey Pavin of my group,” Woods said, laughing about what it will be like to be paired with two of the game’s longest hitters, Gary Woodland, 26, and Dustin Johnson, 26, for the first two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Seriously, I’ll just kind of put it out there in play and put it up on the green and try and make putts,” Woods added. “Those guys will be bombing it way out there past me.”

This is the new reality on the PGA Tour. Gone are the days when Woods could shift into overdrive and, on command, blow a tee shot past his fellow competitors. Gone are the days when Woods made seemingly every important putt he looked at. And though he had only one three-putt green at the W.G.C.-Cadillac Championship outside Miami, Woods has not putted well this year and is ranked 101st on tour.

The tournament host, Arnold Palmer, 81, said all good players reach the point where “all of a sudden, once in a while, the bounces go the wrong way or the putts rim around the cup rather than going in the cup.”

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