Tiger Woods delivered a hugely encouraging second-round performance at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas as his comeback continued yesterday.
Returning after two back operations to play competitive golf for the first time since August 2015, the 14-time major winner had had a mixed first day, making a superb start before some slip-ups forced him to settle for a one-over-par 73.
Things went much more smoothly for Woods yesterday as he carded seven birdies - including four in his last eight holes - in a bogey-free round of 65. At six under, Woods moved up to joint eighth, six shots off the lead held by JB Holmes, who was yet to reach the halfway point of his second round.
Woods’ enjoyment was summed up by an enthusiastic fist pump after he sunk a long putt for par on the 16th, which he had double-bogeyed on Thursday. He also made par on the 18th having double-bogeyed it a day earlier. The 40-year-old former world number one - now ranked 898th - told Sky Sports: “It feels good.
“Yesterday I had it going for three holes (he hit three successive birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth) and I lost it and finished over par.
“Today was different - I turned those two par fives (the ninth and the 11th, both of which he bogeyed on Thursday) into under-par and consequently I was able to play the middle part of the round better. I kept the momentum going and moved myself up the board.”
Woods had started the day 17th on an 18-man leaderboard, with only Justin Rose having been below him before the Olympic champion was forced to withdraw.
South Africa’s Brandon Stone is looking forward to doing battle with defending champion Charl Schwartzel this weekend after firing an eagle at the last to lead by a single shot at the halfway stage of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
After mixing six birdies with two bogeys in his first 17 holes yesterday, Stone coolly slotted in his 10-foot eagle putt at the last to move to 11 under par.
The 23-year-old is one stroke clear of Schwartzel - a four-time winner of this event - and Englishman Chris Hanson, with home favourites George Coetzee and Keith Horne another shot back on nine under.
Stone, who was struggling with a back injury during his second round, told www.europeantour.com: “He (Schwartzel) seems to like this place so hopefully we get drawn together tomorrow and hopefully we can have a good weekend of competition against each other.
“I woke up this morning and the back was feeling a little bit sore, and then on the range it didn’t really feel too great either.
“During the course of the day it progressively got worse and then I had to hit one out of the deep jungle on the right of number eight and really tweaked it.
“I got some really good physio with my trainer on the ninth. I got the back sorted for a few holes there and it held its nerve for the back nine.”
Hanson, meanwhile, carded eight birdies and a single bogey in his second-round 65 to climb up to joint second.
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