Woods Leads Own Tournament
Nick Price shot a 2-under 70 on Friday and is alone in fourth place at 9-under-par 135.
Woods, the defending champion, needed only 11 putts on the front nine but tied for the lead for the first time in Friday's round at the 11th. He drained a four-foot birdie putt there and two holes later, Woods two-putted from 25 feet for another birdie.
Woods extended his lead at the par-5 16th after bombing his drive down the fairway but pushing his second shot into a greenside bunker. He blasted out to seven feet and converted the birdie putt to reach 10-under par for the tournament.
A good bit of fortune came Woods' way at the 17th. His 9-iron approach was headed left of the green but his ball took two hops out of the rough and rolled two feet from the hole where he notched his seventh birdie of the round.
'It was supposed to be a soft 9-iron,' said Woods. 'It was a soft nine with a flip hook, just came off the heel with left-to-right spin. Other than that, it was a great shot.'
Woods had a chance to break the course record at Sherwood Country Club but his approach on 18 stayed at the top of the hill instead of rolling down to the cup.
'Yesterday I played a sloppy round of golf, and today I cleaned it up,' said Woods, who opened with a 68 on Thursday.
Harrington bogeyed the final hole Friday to finish off a round of 69, while Love birdied the same hole to polish off his round of 68.
Phil Mickelson played with Woods on Friday and his round could not have been more different than Woods'. Mickelson shot a 2-over 74 in a round that included three provisionals, two rulings by officials and horrible time off the tee.
'I might have made a mistake playing in the off season,' said Mickelson, who shares 12th with Michael Campbell at 2-under par. 'I'm not playing well, and I'm having a hard time getting motivated to work on it.'
Mickelson traditionally takes time off at the end of the year but is playing quite a bit this off-season. His wife is expecting the couple's third child next March and Mickelson elected to play more at the end of this year and take time off at the beginning of next year.
Bernhard Langer matched Woods with a 65 on Friday and the German is tied for fifth at 7-under-par 137. David Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion, and Retief Goosen, the 2001 U.S. Open winner, joined Langer at minus 7.
Jim Furyk, the overnight leader, struggled to a 2-over 74 and shares eighth place with Colin Montgomerie. The duo's 36-hole total of 6-under-par 138 puts them five shots behind Woods.
Chris DiMarco is alone in 10th, followed by Mark O'Meara, who won last week's Skins Game. DiMarco is at 5-under par, while O'Meara stands at minus 3 after two rounds.
Vijay Singh is 14th at even-par, followed by Bob Estes, who is 3-over and Rich Beem. The reigning PGA Champion shot a second-round 77 and is at 7-over-par 151.
More from the Target World Challenge:
Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might
Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.
“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”
Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”
“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”
Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)
Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”
Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.
“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"
As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.
Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”
McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks
The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.
McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.”
And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.
“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic
No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.
Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.
With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.
“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”
Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.