December 05, 2014

Tiger bounces back in Round 2 at Hero World Challenge

After a rough opening round, Tiger Woods rebounded Friday to shoot a 2-under-par 70 on the second day of the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Windermere, Florida.

Playing in his first competitive tournament since the PGA Championship last August, Woods rallied from a rusty first-round 77 to card an eagle and three birdies on his former home course. He has a 36-hole total of 3-over 147 in the 18-player, no-cut event.

Play was suspended after heavy rain late in the afternoon. Jordan Spieth leads at 11-under but has one hole remaining to play in his second round.

Paired with Patrick Reed in the first twosome, Tiger got off to a much better start than Thursday, when he bogeyed the first two holes. On Friday, he flushed his opening drive at the par-4 first hole, then spun a wedge about five feet from the cup and made the birdie putt. At the par-3 second, Woods found a greenside bunker but chipped to two feet for an easy par-save. This, despite teeing off with a fever and struggling throuhg a heavy cough throughout the round.

Following pars at the third and fourth holes, Tiger flagged his tee shot at the par-3 fifth but was unable to convert a six-foot birdie putt. He made a nice par-save at the par-4 sixth, rolling in a four-foot putt, then made another scrambling par at the par-5 seventh, where he holed an eight-foot putt.

Woods recorded his only bogey on the front nine at the par-4 eighth. His approach shot came up short of the green, where he bladed his chip 40 feet past the pin and two-putted. Tiger parred the par-4 ninth to make the turn in even-par 36.

Woods began the back nine with three straight pars. At the par-5 13th, he pushed his drive into the right rough, then lofted a towering long iron that settled about six feet right of the pin and poured in the eagle putt. Woods added a birdie at the short par-4 14th, pitching his approach to four feet.

With light rain beginning to fall, Tiger two-putted for a par from about 25 feet at the par-3 15th. At the par-4 16th, he hit a beautiful approach within four feet of the cup and made the birdie putt.

Woods challenged the par-5 17th hole by going for the green in two, but his second shot settled into a greenside bunker. He blasted to eight feet, but two-putted for a par.

By then, the rain was coming down hard and a horn sounded, suspending play.

After the delay, Tiger returned to finish his round at the 460-yard, par-4 18th hole. His tee shot found the left side of the fairway but picked up mud. As a result, his 5-iron from 200 yards sailed well left of the green, snapping a streak of nine consecutive greens hit in regulation. From there, Woods stubbed a chip, pitched his fourth shot 12 feet left of the hole and two-putted for a disappointing double-bogey.

“To be honest, it wasn’t a whole lot different,” Woods remarked, when asked to describe the difference between his first and second rounds. “Maybe hit two less worse shots than I did yesterday. I struck the ball solid yesterday and I did it again today.”

Reed stormed back into contention by shooting a 63 and is tied for third heading into Saturday.

Tiger said his biggest challenge this week is getting his mind and body back into a competitive mode again, finding rhythm and hitting shots under pressure.

“Just getting the feel and flow again,” he said.

That includes his short game.

“It’s not very good,” Woods said.