Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tiger Woods back atop Tour leaderboard at Wyndham Championship

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods ( Associated Press )
When the sun set on Sedgefield Country Club Friday evening in Greensboro, North Carolina Tiger Woods found himself in a position with which he's been unfamiliar in recent years: atop a US PGA Tour leaderboard.
After firing a second-round, 5-under 65 to get to 11 under in his Wyndham Championship debut, Woods will enter the weekend tied for the 36-hole lead with Tom Hoge. It marks the first time since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that Woods has had at least a share of a 36-hole lead on Tour – Woods won that event for his last Tour victory to date.
Woods will need to win to guarantee his spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs; a solo second might also get the job done. He entered the week ranked 187th and needs to move into the top 125 to keep his season alive.
So far, so good. Woods hit 16 greens Friday and, despite an opening bogey, was able to limit the mistakes. He had good speed on the greens and ranked first in proximity to the hole in Round 2 (21 feet, 4 inches). A birdie-birdie-par-eagle stretch on the back nine vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard, his eagle coming from inside 10 feet at the par-5 15th.
"I scored well today," Woods said. "I wasn't quite as sharp as I was yesterday. I kept leaving my iron shots above the hole. I couldn't quite get the ball underneath the hole where I could have some aggressive looks. Most of my putts were dying and had to be very patient with it and just make sure I got my good speed.
"I made a couple of those downhill putts but wish I could have given myself a few more uphill looks where I could be pretty aggressive."
While Woods wasn't fully pleased with his round, it's hard to take away what he did Friday. Is Tiger back? Hard to say, but it's evident he's come a long way since last winter's Hero World Challenge.
It's been a season to forget for Woods – three missed cuts in majors, an 85 at Memorial, an 80 at Chambers Bay, that two-month break early in the season after a WD at Torrey Pines. But Woods has stuck to his "process" with new swing coach Chris Como and it appears he's getting closer to regaining his winning form.
Woods said he felt he turned a corner a the Quicken Loans National, where he opened with rounds of 68-66 but shot 74 in the third round and ultimately finished T-18.
"I was finally playing like I know I can play and, again, I still didn't get a lot of out of my rounds," Woods said. "I went through spells in there where I had it going and then I would hit a bad shot, not make a putt. ... I just kept putting myself behind the eight-ball when I had opportunities to get myself out of it."
At the Wyndham, Woods has taken advantage of those opportunities through two rounds.
"These last couple days have been nice," Woods said. "I've put the ball in the right spot but also I've got a few nice bounces and lies here and there."
Sam Snead won his 80th Tour event at the Wyndham. Woods sits at 79 career wins. Woods has also never lost a tournament on Tour in which he's shot 65 or better in the first two rounds.
While history is on his side, Woods' recent play doesn't bode quite as well for his chances of winning. Either way, Saturday sets up as a big day for Woods.
Another low round and he could enter Sunday trying to protect a lead for the first time in a while. A bad round and his season could be all but over as he continues to hear the question, Will Tiger win again?


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