Dec
2
2011
Woods in Top Form, Atop Leaderboard
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Tiger's in driver's seat, no hydrants in sight

Tiger Woods fired a five-under 67 on Friday to take a three-shot lead over K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar at the halfway mark at the Chevron World Challenge, the limited field, money-grab event that benefits his foundation. It’s the second stroke play tournament in a row where Tiger has been atop the leaderboard through 36 holes.

Last month at the Australian Open, he had a one-shot advantage going into the weekend, but shot a third-round 75 and bounced back the last day to place third.

Tiger is looking to win for the first time in over two years — his last victory came at the Australian Masters in 2009, shortly before the National Enquirer exposed his extramarital affairs, leading to his major sex scandal and fall from grace.

“Well, I want the lead after the four days, yeah,” said Woods. “Two days is nice, but four days is even better.  So that’s ‑‑ I know I’m playing better, and it’s nice to see my position on the leaderboard kind of equating to it.  It didn’t really show up obviously at the Presidents Cup because we were playing a different format, but two stroke play events in a row I’ve played really well, and I’ve been either near the lead or in the lead.”

Tiger had two eagles on Friday (Nos. 2 and 11) and hit several exceptional shots, according to Doug Ferguson’s AP story:

On the par-5 second hole, Woods was on the side of the hill under a tree when he hit a 5-iron with a fade over the water to a front pin. He skipped sideways down the hill and clutched his fist about shoulder-high when the ball plopped down 4 feet from the cup. It’s rare for anyone, much less Woods, to show that kind of emotion on the second hole on a Friday. The shot was that good, and there was more to come.

His one bad swing on the par-5 fifth was a snap hook into the trees, and he was lucky to find the ball to punch out. From 257 yards to an elevated green, Woods hit a 3-wood left of the flag, and it caught the slope and rolled to 4 feet. What looked like a possible bogey turned into an unlikely birdie chance, until he missed the putt.

He three-putted the next hole as Choi began to retake the lead, but Woods caught him with a 4-iron to about 15 feet for eagle on No. 11, followed by a 12-foot birdie putt on the next hole and that flop shot that stopped a turn from dropping on No. 13 that left him a tap-in birdie.

I’m betting Tiger will shoot better than 75 in the third round, but we’ll see. How do you think Tiger will fare this weekend? Will he pull off the win? And if he does, is he “back”?

(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)