Balky Putter Keeps Woods in Check
Woods birdied all three of the par-5s at the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club in Wellington, but played the lesser holes in 2-over. The worlds No. 1 ranked player is six shots off the lead, held by Australian Scott Gardiner
Just didnt make any putts, said Woods, who took 30 putts in Round 1. It was just a tough day on the greens, got myself around. I didnt shoot myself in the foot.
Woods, who shot 66 in Wednesdays practice round, teed off Thursday around 9:15 a.m. local time (3:15 p.m. ET Wednesday). He missed a five-foot birdie putt on his first hole, the par-4 10th, and then missed a 15-footer at No. 11. He did birdie the par-5 12th, but only after his 15-foot eagle effort slid by the cup.
Putting was Tigers Achilles heel last week at the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii, where he averaged nearly 32 putts per round. He did, however, shoot a final-round 65 at Kapalua to give him some momentum before being whisked away in his private jet.
With an immense following of patrons and security, Woods hit his approach shot on the par-4 13th pin high but again missed the birdie putt. He then three-putted the 17th for a bogey to fall back to even par, only to birdie the par-5 18th.
A benign day turned a bit breezy as Tiger made the turn. A poor chip at the fourth, his 14th, led to his second bogey of the day. He completed his scoring with a birdie at the par-5 seventh.
Upon finishing his round, Woods had a slight work-out session before returning to the practice range.
He spent the better part of the afternoon within three strokes of the lead before a host of players surged past him.
Gardiner started slowly, bogeying the first, but played the back nine in 6-under 30, including four birdies and an eagle at the last.
Gardiner's 7-under 64 was one better than that of fellow Aussie James McLean. Brett Rumford is two off the pace following a 66. Craig Spence, Stephen Scahill, Craig Parry and 2000 New Zealand Open champion Micheal Campbell all shot 4-under 67s.
Thirteen-year-old qualifier Jae An recorded an impressive round of even-par 71.
Greg Turner, who originally said he would boycott the event in protest of the high admission prices that Woods $2 million appearance fee forced, was more frustrated Thursday after being denied entry to Paraparaumu Beach.
Turner was in driving to the course for his 8:45 a.m. tee time, but when he arrived at the gates, he was diverted down the road so that Woods car could be given priority and secure entry.
The two-time New Zealand Open champion was livid with his treatment.
'I've never been madder in my entire life than I was when I arrived,' said Turner, who shot 74. 'Why the whole rest of the world has got to stop...I understand the need for security but for goodness sake, you've got players in an official car just trying to play.
'In 18 years of professional golf I don't think I've ever played in a tournament where the players have been treated worse than this week. I've never been more insulted. Hopefully this is going to be a one-off. It's been appalling.'
The tournaments managing director, David Pool, regretted the incident, but said it was necessary.
'That decision was made by the police for a security reason but I can't do anything about that,' he said. 'Everyone's seen the security presence and understands the reasons for it.'
Full-field scores from the New Zealand Open
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”
After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).
Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.
The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.
Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.
Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.
Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.
Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.
Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.
Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back
All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.
“I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.
“I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”
Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.
“This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.
Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.