Woods Tied For First Heading Into The Weekend
ATLANTA, Ga. – Scoring without your best stuff is the name of the game on the PGA Tour. Tiger Woods didn’t have it Friday, but fought his way around toasty East Lake Golf Club to salvage a 2-under-par 68 and remained tied for the lead at the halfway mark of the Tour Championship.
After firing a 65 on Thursday, Woods is knotted with Justin Rose at 7-under 133 in the last of four stops to determine the FedExCup champion. Woods began the week at No. 20 but could capture his third FedExCup title with a win and assistance.
After hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens Thursday, his numbers slipped to seven of 14 and 11 of 18.
Leaning on his short game, Woods saved par five-of-seven times and ranks first in scrambling this week, converting nine of 11 opportunities.
“Rounds like today are hard, and they’re hard mentally because you have to grind it out,” said Woods, who struggled during his pre-round warm-up session. “It’s easy to shoot low scores when you’re sharp. It’s a little bit more difficult to post a low number when I’m off. I was able to do that today and kept myself in the tournament.”
Paired in the last group with Rickie Fowler, Woods recorded five birdies, one bogey and a double as temperatures reached 91 degrees. His only bogey was a three-putt at the par-3 ninth.
Like the weather, Woods heated up on the back nine by pouring in four birdies. He earned a two-shot cushion in the 30-player field after draining a 24-foot putt at the par-3 15th hole and his massive gallery was buzzing.
But at the par-4 16th, he pulled his drive into left trees and tried to reach the green with a heroic second shot, the ball plugging in a bunker 30 yards short. Woods departed with a double-bogey.
“In hindsight, I probably should have just pitched out and the worst I would have made is a five,” he said.
Woods finished strong with a birdie at the par-5 18th to catch Rose.
The last time Woods secured a share of the 36-hole lead was at the 2015 Wyndham Championship. It marks the 48th time in his career he has led or co-led after two rounds, Woods going on to win on 43 occasions.
Two of those victories came at the Tour Championship: in 1999 at Champions Golf Club in Houston and in 2007 at East Lake.
Should he collect his 80th PGA Tour title, Woods can claim his third FedExCup crown if: current pacesetter Bryson DeChambeau finishes in a tie for 15th or worse; Rose finishes in a three-way tie for fifth or worse; Tony Finau finishes in a tie for third or worse; Dustin Johnson finishes in a three-way tie for second or worse; Justin Thomas finishes in a three-way tie for second or worse; and Keegan Bradley finishes in a tie for second or worse.
In other words, a lot must go Woods’ way.
He and Rose will start in the final twosome on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET. Woods has thrived in third rounds this year and ranks No. 2 on the PGA Tour in scoring with an average of 68.20, just behind Rory McIlroy (68.15).
His weekend strategy is to limit mistakes.
“This is a tough golf course,” Woods said. “I’m trying to make a bunch of pars and sprinkle in a few birdies here and there. If you get out of position, you just can’t get the ball close.”