Tiger roars a warning

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Tiger Woods sounded a warning at the Australian Open on Friday when he grabbed the lead heading into the weekend.

Tiger Woods sounded a warning at the Emirates Australian Open on Friday when grabbed the lead heading into the weekend’s second 36-holes.

He is looking like a man getting ready to take back the kingdom he once bestrode like a Colossus.

After two years without a win, the 14-time major winner has put himself firmly back on track to a repeat of his Australian Masters victory in Melbourne when he last visited Australia in 2009.

This by posted a 5-under 67 after blazing through his first nine holes with five birdies and overall carding seven birdies as against two bogies on a day when low scores were pretty scarce.

It put him back where he spent so much time in the good old days. On Top of the leader board – and he was clearly enjoying it.

“I played well today, I could have been lower on what would have been my first nine holes and basically I felt I didn’t miss a shot.

“Even though I shot five under today I felt it could have been eight or nine,” said a beaming Woods, who, for most of the round, looked a lot more like the confident star he used to be before he crashed into some high profile personal problems, a divorce, a long list of left leg injuries and a swing change that has taken time to perfect.

“It feels good (on top of the leaderboard) but it feels good being there by actually playing properly and not like I’m slicing it all over the place.

“I’m hitting the ball well and I’ve hit so many lips (of holes) these past few days that I felt it (his score) could have been quite a bit lower.”

Australian Peter O’Malley finished birdie-birdie for a six-under 66 to be a shot off the lead with top-ranked Australian young gun Jason Day another stroke away on seven-under 137.

Woods believes his 67 on Friday backed up his feeling after his opening bogey-free 68 here on Thursday that he is beginning to find his long overdue return to form and his 58th place on the World Rankings will soon be nothing more than a bad memory..

“I’m basically playing the way I have been playing at home. It’s finally come to the golf course in a tournament setting. I’ve been hitting like this at home, but it just hasn’t come out at a tournament,” Woods said.

“It’s progression. I’ve been through some changes before and that’s what happened. It takes a little bit of time, but once it starts coming the confidence starts building.”

Hitting off at the 10th tee, Woods’ bogey-free run ended at the par-4 third and his 30th hole of the tournament where he missed a 30-foot putt for par.

But he made up for the loss of a stroke with a 25-foot birdie at the fourth hole.

O’Malley had a spotless round of six birdies and no bogies as he charged up the leaderboard, while World No 7 Day, playing in the same group as Woods, had five birdies and a bogey, perhaps because of the great encouragement he received from the large gallery following the group.

“I only missed two fairways, I hit 18 greens and hit two par-fives in two, I probably had 32 putts for six-under so that’s pretty good golf,” said O’Malley, who plays regularly at The Lakes.

Overnight leader Jarrod Lyle of Australia slipped down the leaderboard after following his sizzling 65 on Thursday with a 74 today – but not by too far.

At 5-under he was shot behind 4th-placed Bubba Watson, one of America’s longest hitters, in a tie for fifth in a group that included the highly-rated US President’s Cup golfer Nick Watney.

Lyle joined Woods in a share of first place with two early birdies, but three late bogeys denied him the chance to play in the final pairing on Saturday.

Pre tournament favourite Adam Scott is within striking distance at four under after signing for a one-under 71 that included an eagle and a double bogey.

He too trails Woods by five shots.

World No.5 Dustin Johnson struggled to a three-over 75 to sit at minus three with United States Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples (74) and 2006 champion John Senden.

Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, in the meantime, produced an eagle at the par-five 17th to survive the halfway cut by two shots.

Two-time champion Aaron Baddeley battled a wayward driver to card a 71 and is also level with the card.

Veteran Greg Norman, the Internationals Presidents Cup captain, scraped in by a single shot after battling to a 74, but highly-rated American Matt Kuchar missed the cut by a shot after a 73.

Former Australian champions Robert Allenby (73) and Craig Parry (78) will also have the weekend off after finishing at plus four, while Stuart Appleby carded a disastrous 79 to finish plus 11.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD:

135 Tiger Woods (USA) 68 67
136 Peter O’Malley (Aus) 70 66
137 ason Day (Aus) 69 68
138 Bubba Watson (USA) 68 70
139 Jarrod Lyle (Aus) 65, 74, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 67 72, Rohan Blizard (Aus) 69 70, Nick Watney (USA) 66 73, Matthew Jones (Aus) 69 70
140 Adam Scott (Aus) 69, 71, Joom-woo Choi (Kor) 73 67

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