Friday, March 09, 2018

Tiger shares early second-round lead at Valspar Championship

It’s been awhile, but when Tiger Woods’ final putt dropped Friday at the Valspar Championship, Woods’ name was atop the leaderboard.

The last time Woods held at least a share of the lead in a US PGA Tour event? August 22, 2015, the third round of the Wyndham Championship, where he was a co-leader after 36 holes in his debut at the Greensboro, North Carolina tournament.

But in just his second round at the Valspar, Woods not only grabbed the share of the lead for the first time in 930 days, he took the outright lead after a birdie at the par-5 fifth hole, his 14th hole of the day at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, Florida.

His second-round, 3-under 68 included just one bogey and moved him to 4 under through 36 holes, tieing him for the lead with Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker and Corey Conners at the time Woods finished his round.

Woods, who carded an opening 1-under 70 on Thursday, began his Friday on the par-4 10th hole and hooked a 3-wood into the woods. That would be one of the few poor shots for Woods on the day.

He earned his first two birdies of the day with a pair of nice iron shots. He hit his second at the par-4 12th to 6 feet to set up the first birdie, and then stuck his tee ball to about the same distance at the par-3 13th.

Woods didn’t make a bogey on his front nine as he went out in 2-under 33, hitting three fairways, five greens and 12 putts.

As playing competitors Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson continued to slip further below the cut line, Woods kept the pedal down. He made a 12-footer at the par-4 second to tie the lead. After an impressive up-and-down par from a fried egg at the par-3 fourth hole, Woods delivered another nice bunker shot from a short-sided lie to set up birdie at No. 5.

Woods was in danger of losing a shot at the par-4 seventh, the same hole where he hit the flagstick with his approach on Thursday. But Woods made a clutch 12-footer for par and delivered a putter raise and fist pump in the process.

The solo lead turned into a share of the top spot at the par-4 ninth. Woods hit a hard chip that managed to clip the flagstick and give him a good chance to go bogey-free. However, he just missed the 6-footer for par.

In his second round, Woods hit eight of 13 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and needed 26 putts.

Woods is coming off a 12th-place finish at the Honda Classic, his third start of the season after a MC at the Genesis Open and T-23 at the Farmers Insurance Open. He will play next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event he has won eight times

Woods and England's Paul Casey, two of five players on four-under 138 but Canadian Corey Conners is heading for a clear lead. He is seven under with only a few holes to play at the time of writing.





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