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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Tiger Woods improves to 4-under but is tied 5th at Hero World Challenge golf

Tiger Woods was tied-fifth on Friday with Charley Hoffman the sole leader with 12-under after the second day of Hero World Challenge golf.

other-sports Updated: Dec 02, 2017 19:19 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Albany (Bahamas)
American golfer Tiger Woods on the 17th green during the second round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas on Friday.
American golfer Tiger Woods on the 17th green during the second round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas on Friday.(AFP)

Tiger Woods on top of the standings two days into his comeback seemed too good to be true and, in the end, it was just that.

But for the briefest of whiles on Friday, it was that way when Woods finished the front nine with an eagle that was preceded by birdies in the first, third and fourth holes. At eight-under, he was on top. Alone.

READ | Tiger Woods, pain-free, puts in solid show in Hero World Challenge with 3-under

Cheers went up at the pavilion when Woods ended with 31 halfway through the second round of the Hero World Challenge. Plans for lunch were replaced by ‘I am following Woods now’ but having smoked through the first two hours, golf’s god on comeback trail played like mortals do in such situations; a one-over with a birdie in the 11th but bogeys in the 12th and 18th where he had a bad shot off the tee which put the ball into the sand.

It took him to four-under for the day and seven-under overall, five shots behind Charley Hoffman who hit nine birdies including five in a row to wrap up the day’s work and take pole position. Charley Hoffman will be addressing the media in two minutes, said a PGA Tour official but the flash interview zone nearly emptied, reporters preferring Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava to the leader at the midway stage.

There is serious money and more pride at stake here but this invitational meet with no cut has so far been about one man. One who said his round was “successful.” One who accepted it could have been better but pointed out that he is still in the mix.

READ | Wedding in Bahamas, honeymoon at home for golfer Tommy Fleetwood

“Yeah, I felt like today I could have easily gotten to double digits under par. We have got two more days and I think it’s supposed to blow harder tomorrow (Saturday). If that’s the case, I think a good, solid round should get me up there,” said Woods.

“Today, I hit the balls better than yesterday. I wanted to clean it up today. I wanted to play the par-5s better. I did that. Now I need to get the speed a little more consistent on my putts and I should be okay.”

Such was the effect of the first nine holes --- Woods was driving sweetly, making good pars, a birdie on the sixth was denied by the lip’s outer edge and an eagle was set up by a three-wood which, according to him, was the day’s standout shot --- that former champion Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey asked on Twitter whether Woods is back.

“I know, it’s pretty neat. I think it’s very flattering, very humbling that so many people have enjoyed what I’ve done throughout my first 20 years on Tour. I put a few smiles and few excitements into people’s lives, and as an athlete it’s very humbling,” said Woods when asked for a reaction to Bailey’s comment.

READ | Hideki Matsuyama leading an Asian tee party at Hero World Challenge golf tournament

But as Woods struggled with the pace of the green --- “they seemed to be like a foot faster” --- Hoffman, Jordan Spieth and overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood ratcheted up the birdies’ count. And from sole leader, Woods became part of a cluster at the top before being bunched at T5 in a quintet that includes defending champion Hideki Matsuyama with whom he is paired for Day 3.

Matsuyama cleared

Earlier, Matsuyama was cleared of a possible four-stroke penalty on the 18th of filling his divot even as the ball rolled back toward his feet following a chip that was short of the green. The PGA ruled that his intent was not to improve the conditions and that the ball didn’t come to rest “in that spot.”

SCORES Day 2: 1. 132 -- C Hoffman (69, 63). T2: 135 -- T Fleetwood (66, 69), J Spieth (68, 67). 4: 136 -- J Rose (68, 68). T5: 137 --- R Fowler (67, 70), M Kuchar (67, 70), H Matsuyama (71, 66), F Molinari (69, 68), T Woods (69, 68). T10: 138 K Chappell (68, 70), P Reed (72, 66). 12: 139: J Thomas (69, 70). 13: 140 – D Johnson (68, 72). 14: 141 H Stenson (70, 71). T15: 142 – K Kisner (70, 72). A Noren (73, 69). 17: 148: D Berger (75, 73).

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 14:06 IST

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