THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The mountain ahead is still steep, but Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy regained some of their sanity after rebounding in the second round of the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD.
Woods – a five-time winner and five-time runner up in his World Challenge event at Sherwood over the years – backed up his career worst score on the track (76) with a 6-under 66 on Friday.
A day after playing the five par-5s in a dismal 3-over, Woods had some revenge by making birdie on four of the five long holes. He added four more birdies throughout the round that were countered by just two bogeys.
“I felt like I really didn’t swing the club that poorly (yesterday). I was just a fraction off and I got out of position a couple times. I didn’t play the par 5s well and it just snowballed into a high number. Was never really able to get any kind of momentum going. Today was different. Got off to a much better start and kept rolling,” Woods said.
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It was a welcome turnaround, but once again could have easily been better. After losing over five shots to the field tee-to-green on Thursday, Woods gained more than three shots on Friday. But despite needing just 26 putts, he was -1.234 in Strokes Gained: Putting. Woods missed three makeable six-foot putts and another from eight feet on the round.
Woods confirmed he was not hampered by his surgically repaired back as he was at the recent U.S. Open when he missed the cut.
“I am moving a lot better. Having four weeks off was good, training sessions have been good, so everything’s kind of turned around,” he said.
While a title defense this week is now likely out of the equation, Woods has turned his mind to defending his Masters trophy in a few weeks. When the situation allows, he is starting to try to dial in the shots he knows he will need at Augusta as he chases a sixth green jacket.
“The nature of this golf course is not quite like Augusta. (But) there are a couple holes that I do like setting it up and hitting high draws and I’ve done that. At Augusta I’m going to have to do that a lot more often,” he explained.
“Six is a lot like No. 10, setting up, trying to hit that high tomahawk draw down there, I was able to do it yesterday and today. I’ve got a few weeks… so yes… imaging some of those shots already, and I have been for quite a while, ever since the U.S. Open. Hopefully I’ll be ready in a few weeks.”
McIlroy also slotted eight birdies on Friday after his opening 73, coupling them with three bogeys to shoot a 67. It leaves him 10 shots off the halfway lead held by Justin Thomas. Late on Thursday, his frustrations saw him snap one of his wedges on his way to a double bogey on the 18th hole.
“It’s certainly not the first club I’ve broken and it certainly won’t be the last. I missed so many shots to the right, if that wedge shot on 18 had of missed 20 yards left, I still would have had that club in my bag, I wouldn’t have snapped it. It was just one shot too many to the right,” McIlroy explained Friday.
The two-time FedExCup champion remains mystified as to why his game is being littered with mistakes that are proving very costly indeed.
“I’ve made 15 birdies in the first two days, which usually would put you right up at the top of the leaderboard. But I have just made too many mistakes. It was the same story last week, sort of the same story at Winged Foot. Just been one of these stretches where the good stuff’s there, but the bad stuff is sort of taking away from the fact that I’m hitting good shots and making birdies,” he added.
“If I can just get rid of that and maybe be a little more conservative when I miss fairways and not try to take too much on. When I get it out of position I’m not playing smart.”
Source: PGA tour