Nassau - Tiger
Woods evoked memories of his glory days by firing a bogey-free
seven-under-par 65 on Friday at the Hero World Challenge in his second
round after a 16-month back surgery layoff.
Former world No 1 Woods, a 14-time major champion, shot his best sub-par round since a
10-under 62 in the second round of the 2013 edition of the elite
18-player event that benefits his charity foundation.
"It was very
important for me," Woods said.
"I don't know what it is about playing
and competing, but keeping cards clean, there's something really special
and it feels pretty good doing that."
Woods thrilled about 200
spectators at the 7 302-yard Albany Golf Club in a remote Bahamas
billionaire enclave to finish 36 holes on six-under 138 - level ninth
and six shots behind co-leaders Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama.
"Through 15, I didn't really miss a shot," Woods said.
"I really had it dialed in."
playing alone after England's Justin Rose withdrew with back pain,
opened with a birdie and added another at the par-5 sixth, chipping from
sand to 12 feet and sinking the putt.
He then salvaged par with a
six-foot putt at the eighth after pulling his tee shot into sand and
bushes, telling caddie Joe LaCava, "I'm not dropping a shot."
didn't. Woods birdied the par-5 ninth and 11th holes after bogeys on
both Thursday, lipping out a 25-foot birdie putt at 10 in between.
put his tee shot inches from the cup at the par-3 12th, saying, "I
couldn't hit any better," then curled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the
14th and tapped-in for birdie at the par-5 15th.
At 16, where
Woods made double bogey Thursday, sent his tee shot behind a bush in
rocky sand. He blasted out and rolled a 20-foot par putt into the cup,
pumping his right fist and smacking the putter blade to celebrate.
"That was big, to not go down a shot and not lose any momentum," Woods said. "I wanted to keep that card clean."
Woods sank a three-foot par putt at 18 to finish his round after only two hours and 54 minutes.
some of those putts and those two birdies at 9 and 11 changes the
entire energy of the round," Woods said. "Instead of being angry at
myself and ticked and trying to fight back, now I'm building momentum
Woods, who turns 41 later this month, has not produced
such a score against a fuller field since a 9-under 61 in the second
round of his most recent victory - the 2013 World Golf Championships
Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
Until Thursday, Woods had
not played a competitive round since August 2015, when he shared 10th at
the PGA Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.
hadn't felt the competitive flow and feel in a long time. It has been
almost a year and a half," Woods said. "And today I had it early. The
first tee shot I felt very comfortable."
ranked 898th in the world, ended the longest layoff of his career after
466 days, then electrified those seeking signs he might regain the form
that once dominated golf.
"I turned those holes around.
Consequently, the momentum, the feel of the entire round changes," Woods
said. "That's what you have to do. That's how you win golf
Woods, whose 79 career titles are three shy of Sam
Snead's all-time record, said he has slightly altered his swing to ease
the stress on his back since the operations last September.
made subtle changes here and there," Woods said. "I've tried to go back
and look at and do some stuff that I used to do as a junior that I did
Woods said his body felt better than Thursday, calling that "a very good sign."
Scores after Friday's second round of the Hero World Challenge, an 18-player invitational event at par-72 Albany Golf Club (USA unless noted):
132 - Dustin Johnson 66-66, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 65-67
134 - Matt Kuchar 67-67, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 67-67
135 - Bubba Watson 72-63
136 - Brandt Snedeker 72-64
137 - Jordan Spieth 68-69, J.B. Holmes 64-73
138 - Tiger Woods 73-65, Rickie Fowler 68-70, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 67-71
140 - Brooks Koepka 72-68
141 - Patrick Reed 72-69, Zach Johnson 72-69, Russell Knox (SCO) 69-72
142 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 70-72
144 - Jimmy Walker 70-74
WD - Justin Rose (ENG) 74