NASSAU, Bahamas – What a difference a day makes.
One day after a tumultuous effort in his return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods appeared in control of all facets of his game while shooting a bogey-free, 7-under 65 that quickly moved him up the leaderboard.
Woods opened with an easy birdie on the first hole and rolled from there, correcting many of the tee-shot issues that plagued him during the first round and pouring in several lengthy putts. He is now 6-under through 36 holes in his first start in nearly 16 months.
“Through 15 holes I really didn’t miss a shot,” Woods said. “I really had it dialed in both ways. I was shaping it both ways, and I had nice control of my traj. That was key. I was able to keep the ball down when I needed to, and send it at times.”
Woods lost his playing partner when Justin Rose withdrew with a back injury, and he indicated after the round that he considered asking the head pro at Albany Golf Club to play as his marker. But given that the wind wasn’t much of a factor, Woods decided to go it alone and finished his round in under three hours.
The highlights were numerous: par-5 birdies at Nos. 6, 11 and 15 as well as difficult par saves on Nos. 8 and 16. The biggest takeaway for Woods, though, was the blemish-free scorecard.
“After hitting that terrible shot there into another bush and getting the up-and-down (on No. 8), I told Joey (LaCava), ‘I’m not dropping a shot,’” Woods said. “I wanted to keep that card clean. Somehow, I don’t know what it is about playing and competing, but keeping cards clean, there’s something really special and it feels pretty good about doing that.”
Woods was once again upbeat after the round, and he explained that his body felt better after the second round than it did following his round either of the previous two days.
It’s a promising sign for a 40-year-old looking to return from a significant back injury, and it’s one that gives Woods reason to feel optimistic after his first bogey-free round since the 2015 Greenbrier Classic.
“It was very important for me because I hadn’t felt the competitive flow and feel in a long time,” Woods said. “To feel it yesterday, feel that tee shot on 2 and feel like, ‘Hey, I’m back in this again.’ I had the feel of playing tournament golf. And today I had it early, and the first tee shot I felt very comfortable.”