World No.1 Scottie Scheffler fired a sizzling 6-under 66 to take the joint lead while Tiger Woods put together a much-improved effort in the second round at the Hero World Challenge here on Friday.
Playing his first event since April, Woods moved up three places with a 2-under 70 to be 15th in the 20-man field.
Scheffler, who shot a three-under 69 on the opening day, found his full rhythm at the Albany Golf Club. He shares the lead with Jordan Spieth who built on his productive outing in the first round with a 5-under 72 in the second.
Test for Woods
It was the hottest day of the week so far, providing a sterner test for Woods who underwent an ankle surgery post his withdrawal from the Masters.
The performance on Friday was a much-needed shot in the arm for Woods, who is aiming to make further improvements over the weekend. “Unfortunately, I just haven’t finished off my last two rounds the way I would like to and I’ve got two more days to improve,” said the 15-time major winner, who is also the tournament host.
Woods’ walk was better as he wasn’t limping as much as he was on Thursday. The driver listened to him better and the wedges and irons were doing his bidding. The putter, too, did not let him down.
“I cleaned it up a little bit from yesterday (Thursday).
“I didn’t quite have the finish I would like to have. I missed a couple of putts coming in and made a couple little mistakes.
“Overall, it was a better start... better commitment, I kept it going with that today (Friday). I just wish I made a couple more putts to keep the round going,” said Woods.
After collecting birdies four times on the front nine, he turned in a 4-under, but could not consolidate the gains.
He had back-to-back birdies on the first and second and again on the sixth-seventh, but dropped shots on 13th, 15th and 16th. On the 17th, he birdied with a massive putt from nearly 30 feet. The 47-year-old parred the 18th for a 70.
“I’ve played two tournaments all year. I’m rusty. This golf course will bring that out of you a little bit. Some of the pin locations... you can run the table here or you can go the other way very quickly,” said Woods.
Brian Harman, who shared the overnight lead with Tony Finau, turned around his disastrous start of three bogeys in the first four holes with a blazing 5-under over the last five holes to get to 8-under and a third place.
Two-time defending champion Viktor Hovland’s struggles continued with a second straight 73 for Tied 16th. Harman, who displayed his fighting spirit while winning The Open in July, brought those qualities to the fore yet again.
He birdied 11th and then holed a difficult second shot for an eagle on Par-4 from the edge of the bunker.
He celebrated that with two great shots to get to the green on the Par-5 15th. He had a 35-footer for another eagle, and he gave it all but went past just under four feet.
“Yeah, rough start, 3 over through 11. Certainly wouldn’t have thought I would have finished at 3 under, but played the last eight holes really well, a couple of good par saves and finally got to play a little offense,” said Harman.