Tiger Woods made his move at the U.S. Open just as the weekend rounds were coming into sight.
Woods went the wrong way.
Finishing with back-to-back bogeys Friday left Woods "a little hot" and behind a lot of truer contenders. It wasn't enough to draw a concession speech, not when his even-par total safely kept him above the cutline.
"Right now I'm still in the ballgame," Woods said. "There's so many guys with a chance to win."
Scoring conditions have been ripe at Pebble Beach. The ground is not too firm. The weather is not too shabby thanks to a constant marine layer. The under-par red numbers on the leaderboard reflect that.
It also means Brooks Koepka's bid to win a third straight U.S. Open remains in play after shooting 2-under par each round thus far.
Justin Rose, Woods' playing partner along with Jordan Spieth, could not parlay his opening-round 65 into anything more than a second-round 70, which isn't all bad considering it's not far off Woods' 2000 romp here that started 65-69.
As historic as that 15-stroke win was by Woods in 2000, he needs as dramatic a comeback by sunset Sunday, and he expects tougher course conditions to weed out those merely posing as contenders, not a 15-time major champion.
"The golf course will be a little bit faster, a little bit more springy than today and scores will continue to back up a little bit," Woods said.
That could be just what Woods needs, according to Conrad Ray, Woods' teammate 25 years ago at Stanford who is fresh off coaching the Cardinal to its ninth NCAA championship.
"I feel the harder the course gets, the better Tiger's chances are," Ray said. "He's the master at hitting the ball below the hole, missing it on the wide sides. That's a huge thing of playing Pebble Beach well. You're not going to hit every game, but you just can't hit it in the wrong spots."
That coaching tip surely got passed onto one of Ray's current Stanford players, Brandon Wu, the top amateur entering Saturday.
Woods followed Ray's below-the-hole prescription in Thursday's 1-under round, but not so much in a 1-over loop Friday, when his only birdie came after he indeed kept his approach below the hole for an 11-foot putt on No. 11.
His closing act was a rude awakening after 34 holes of mostly benign, pedestrian play. Despite valiant attempts at par-saving putts, Woods couldn't make up for a short approach on No. 8 or a drive into a fairway bunker on No. 9.
"Not a very good finish," Woods said.
When he starts Saturday's round, he's banking on the United States Golf Association to speed up the action, literally.
"It's just a matter of how much will it dry out from morning to afternoon," Woods said. "The fairways were a bit slow and soft. I don't think they put mowers on them this morning. And the short areas, the run-ups, man, they're firm.
"So if they get the greens anywhere like that, it will be a hell of a test."
Woods started Friday's round on the back-9, a symbolic reminder of where his career is now, which wasn't a bad thing two months ago.
He came back to win The Masters in April, but he only trailed by one stroke midway through it. He couldn't come back at the next major, the PGA Championship, because he missed the cut.
He is not in the lead, nor honestly near it. He is not in pain, unlike his last U.S. Open win in 2008 down the coast at Torrey Pines. His life is not in utter chaos, as it's documented the past decade.
He remains the main draw this weekend to the thousands of spectators, regardless of who or how many are ahead of him on the leaderboard.
"The weekend crowds of a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, that's like rocket fuel to Tiger," Ray said. "Other guys, it bugs them. Tiger, he wants that mojo from people."