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Hoffman takes lead with dozen birdies, Woods stays in hunt

Press Trust of India  |  Albany (Bahamas) 

Charley Hoffman fired a dozen birdies in round two to take the lead in the Hero World Challenge while tournament host Tiger Woods turned back the clock with a sensational birdie on the ninth hole to stay in contention.

Hoffman, who was seventh over night, carded a 9-under 63 for a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood, who finished the day Tied 2nd with a 5-under 67 and 3-under 69 respectively.

Woods was Tied 5 alongside four others but would have finished higher if it was not for the bogey on the 12th and 18th hole. The 41-year-old was in red hot touch on the front- nine, firing three birdies and an eagle for the sole lead before faltering on the back-nine to finish with 4-under 68.

Woods is expectedly getting the maximum support from the crowd in his comeback event and the common refrain on day two was 'Tiger is back' every time he hit a good shot. The fans flocked to the leaderboard to see Woods' name at the top after he hit an eagle on the ninth hole.

The performance was commendable considering Woods has not won since 2013 and has played just three competitive rounds this year.

Woods, who shot three-under 69 on the first day, was on fire from the start. He smashed a 335-yard drive and placed his approach shot five feet from the pin for a birdie start.

On the second he missed a close birdie, but on third, he did not quite make the green in two, but from the front edge, he putted to five feet for a neat birdie.

Then came the fourth, which showed that fans just might get back the Tiger of the old. He smashed another drive down the middle and aimed for the flag on second to get to four feet for birdie number three of the day.

He missed a birdie from 12 feet on par-5 sixth where he missed the fairway for the first time and on seventh, he saved a good par after going into left rough and then into the bunker with his second. He saved another par on eighth.

Then came the 603-yard ninth hole. Another great drive was followed by a beauty of an approach shot 20 feet past the flag. He drained that for an eagle before the charge slowed down on the back-nine and he lost the lead.

Woods, who called the opening day as up and down, said round two performance was satisfying.

"I think it was successful because I went out there and shot 31 on the front nine. I built upon what I did yesterday, I cleaned it up. Only thing I really struggled with today was speed of the greens.

"Henrik (Stenson) and I were talking about it all day is that they seemed to be like a foot faster. I really did struggle getting the speed and I blew most of them well past the hole and made a few coming back. I also missed my share, too," he said.

Asked how his body was reacting to the rigours of 18 holes, he said: "No issues at all, none. That's one of the reasons I went out and played nine straight days before back home and down here as well. My body's accustomed to playing. It's a little different playing obviously tournament golf with tournament speed and hitting certain shots, but the body's good.

"I felt like today I could have easily gotten to double digits under par. That would have put me probably one or two back, but I think I'm still in it. We've got two more days and I think it's supposed to blow a little harder tomorrow. If that's the case, I think a good solid round should get me up in there."

In Tied 5th, Woods had the company of defending champion Hideki Matsuyama (66), Francesco Molinari (68), Matt Kuchar (67) and Rickie Fowler (67).

Earlier, Matsuyama had to wait for some time before he was cleared of a possible four-stroke penalty on the 18th hole.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, December 02 2017. 18:25 IST