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Woods finds putting touch, gets within two at Abu Dhabi

Tiger Woods and Joe LaCava
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Tiger Woods found an answer for Abu Dhabi’s grainy greens on Friday but had no solution for swirling winds and pinched fairways on his way to a second-round 69 that put him two strokes off the lead at his season-opener.

Woods turned in 1 under on Day 2 before a 25-footer for birdie at No. 11, his longest putt of the week. He followed with a 3-footer at No. 12 and 20-footer at the 15th hole for birdies to get to 6 under and within one stroke of the lead, but went from the rough to a greenside bunker at the 16th hole for bogey to finish at 5 under.

Dane Thorbjorn Olesen is the surprise leader at 7 under, following a 5-under 67 Friday. Matteo Manassero (65) and Gareth Maybin (70) are tied for second place at 6 under.

Seven players are tied for fourth at 5 under, including Woods, Rory McIlroy and Robert Karlsson.

For the day, Woods hit six fairways – and just two on a wind-whipped back nine – 13 greens in regulation and had 28 putts, seven less than he needed on Day 1.

“I got more committed to (his putting lines),” said Woods, who entered the weekend last year at the Dubai Desert Classic four strokes off the lead but struggled on Saturday and Sunday. “Once I read the green, I said just play it and trust it. Yesterday, a couple of times, I was at a distance where the green was changing and I said just be committed to one grain.”

On Saturday, Woods will be paired for the third consecutive day with McIlroy, who rebounded after a two-stroke penalty on the ninth hole and shot 72, and Karlsson (72).