Woods takes narrow lead in Atlanta
Tiger Woods moved into a narrow lead at East Lake Golf Club at the halfway stage of the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods moved into a narrow Tour Championship lead at East Lake Golf Club at the halfway stage of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup finale.
The world number one, a six-time winner already this year, shot a second-round, two under par 68 to get to five under par for the tournament, a shot ahead of Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and fellow American Sean O’Hair on a sweltering day in Atlanta, Georgia.
Yet Woods could well have finished the day in an even more dominant position after a couple of missed short putts at the 15th and 16th holes and a closing bogey at the par-three 18th.
“Today’s round probably could have been one or two better for sure,” Woods said.
“But, you know, overall I’m very pleased with my scoring the first two days.
“I missed those two putts there at 15 and 16. Fifteen is okay, that’s fine, that happens. Sixteen was just a bad putt.
“I’ve been hitting good putts all day and early in the round all my putts were on the high side. The grain wasn’t taking it at the end like I thought it would.
“I think that was the frustrating part because I was hitting good putts, they just weren’t breaking at the hole.”
O’Hair had begun the day at four under par, a one-shot leader over Woods, Harrington and Stewart Cink with a fellow major winner, reigning US Open champion Lucas Glover, a further shot back at two under in fifth place.
Yet as the frontrunners reached the turn, Woods sank his third birdie in a row with a four at the ninth to move clear by one shot at the top of the leaderboard.
Woods was playing with Ireland’s Harrington in the penultimate group ahead of Open champion Cink and O’Hair.
It was their eighth round together this year, and Harrington had struck first blood in this duel with a birdie at the par-four fourth to move into a share of the lead at four-under.
The gap widened as Woods then three-putted the par-four fifth for bogey and slipped to two under par but parity was restored at the par-four seventh when the Irishman overshot the green on the way to a bogey while Woods nailed his approach shot to seven feet from the hole and birdied from there.
Both Woods and world number eight Harrington birdied the par-four eighth while behind them Cink birdied the seventh as O’Hair bogeyed the same hole and briefly the three chasers had swapped places with the overnight leader.
Then, at the par-five ninth, as Harrington could only take par from the easiest hole on the course, Woods sunk a mid-range birdie putt to move into the outright lead at five-under.
Harrington joined him there with a birdie at the 12th but then gave the shot back two holes later.
Woods looked to have separated himself from the rest of the 30-man field at the par-five 15th with a brilliant five wood from 246 yards out to five feet from the hole, only to miss the eagle putt. Still, the birdie went in and he moved to six-under, two shots clear.
A five-foot birdie putt at the 16th gave Woods another chance to put more daylight between him and Harrington but again, he missed from short range and next the Irishman wasted an opportunity of his own, missing a birdie putt from inside six feet at the 17th.
Woods, though, paid for poor play at the par-three 18th, sending his tee shot into a greenside grandstand and then, having taken relief, fluffing his chip shot out of the rough. He got out of the thick stuff at the second attempt and holed out for bogey, falling back to five-under.
O’Hair had gone off the boil with a bogey either side of the turn but he rallied with had the chance to leapfrog Harrington into second place but missed a birdie putt at the 18th from 17 feet.
Instead, Harrington will once again go toe to toe with Woods on Saturday, this time in the final group, with O’Hair a group in front alongside South African Ernie Els, who got into the mix at three-under with a 66.
Americans Kenny Perry and Jerry Kelly will start the third round in a tie for fifth at two-under with a group of five players at one under, including Masters champion Angel Cabrera, Glover and Cink, whose round came unstuck with a quadruple bogey eight at the 10th on the way to a 72.
Among those at level par is world number three Phil Mickelson, who made amends for an opening 73 with a six-birdie, three-bogey 67.
A victory for Woods, as FedEx Cup points leader would guarantee the world number one a USD 10 million bonus in addition to the USD 1.35m winner’s cheque.
Harrington, sixth in the standings, would need to win and have Woods finish third or lower.
Of the four men between Woods and three-time major winner Harrington, all of whom need to win to guarantee them the FedEx Cup title and bonus, third-placed Jim Furyk was best placed, four shots back at level par after a 68.
Fifth-placed Heath Slocum shot a 68 to reach one over par while second-placed Steve Stricker and fourth-placed Zach Johnson are at two over after 72s.
England’s Luke Donald, the only other European at East Lake besides Harrington, fired a 71 and is at one over, while Australian Geoff Ogilvy props up the 30-man field at eight over following a second-round 73.
Collated second round scores
(USA unless stated, par 70):
135 Tiger Woods 67 68
136 Sean O’Hair 66 70, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 67 69
137 Ernie Els (Rsa) 71 66
138 Jerry Kelly 71 67, Kenny Perry 72 66
139 Nick Watney 70 69, Jason Dufner 71 68, Lucas Glover 68 71, Stewart Cink 67 72, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 72 67
140 Phil Mickelson 73 67, Steve Marino 69 71, Jim Furyk 72 68, John Senden (Aus) 70 70, David Toms 74 66
141 Retief Goosen (Rsa) 69 72, Luke Donald (Eng) 70 71, Scott Verplank 70 71, Heath Slocum 73 68
142 Steve Stricker 70 72, Zach Johnson 70 72
143 Dustin Johnson 69 74, Kevin Na 73 70
144 Hunter Mahan 71 73, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 74, Mike Weir (Can) 72 72, Brian Gay 72 72
146 Y.E. Yang (Kor) 71 75
148 Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 75 73
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