March 09, 2018

Tiger Tied For Second at 4-Under 138 To End Round 2

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – When Tiger Woods birdied his 11th hole Friday, he earned a share of the lead in an official PGA Tour event for the first time in 930 days. Let that sink in.

Woods, the second-winningest player in Tour history with 79, is back in the hunt. He made a final-day run two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, but faltered down the stretch, earning a tie for 12th. But Woods is looking for more this weekend at the Valspar Championship.

Through two rounds at the challenging Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, he is knotted in a four-way tie for second place at 4-under 138, two strokes behind young Canadian Corey Conners at 6-under 136. Woods fired a 3-under 68 Friday and didn’t make a bogey until the final hole.

“I’m up there,” said the 42-year-old Woods, whose last victory came at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. “At least I’m there with a chance going into the weekend.”

Making just his fourth PGA Tour start of 2018, Woods carded four birdies and one bogey. He looked comfortable, hit many quality iron shots that left good uphill looks for birdie, and his short game was sensational.

Woods found seven of 13 fairways, nine of 18 greens and used 25 putts.

“I feel good,” he said. “It was just a matter of cleaning up a few things here and there.”

Woods wasn’t sure what to expect after a shaky warm-up session in the cold.

“I was freezing out there,” said Woods. “

An early back nine starter with Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson, Woods converted short birdie putts at 12 and 13 set up by stellar irons, then parred the last five holes to turn in 2-under 33. After a birdie at the second (his 11th hole), he was tied at the top at 4-under for the tournament.

The last time Woods was in that position was at the 2015 Wyndham Championship, where he shared the 36-hole lead and wound up tying for 10th. Not that he knew where he stood Friday.

“I never got a chance to see it on the boards,” Woods said.

He grabbed the lead by himself by burying a five-foot birdie putt at the fifth, and the record crowds went crazy. So did An estimated 25 percent of its customers couldn’t connect for nearly 30 minutes due to heavy traffic.

Woods made a great par-save at the seventh, rolling in a 12-foot putt from the back fringe and raised his putter high. After a par at eight, he smashed a big drive into the first cut of rough on the left at the par-4 ninth, but short-sided himself with a poor wedge to the right and was unable to rescue par with a five-foot putt.

“I just need to get a little more tournament time in,” said Woods. “I’m starting to get a better feel for it. I’m figuring the rhythm of rounds. I’m hitting the shots and I don’t have a problem posting scores.”

He tees off Saturday in the second-to-last twosome with Brandt Snedeker at 1:45 p.m. ET.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Woods said.