MIAMI: Tiger Woods was in the thick of things Friday (Saturday in Manila) after a one-over par 71 at windy PGA National left him four shots off the Honda Classic halfway lead held by Luke List and Jamie Lovemark.
Former world number one Woods, playing the third tournament of his latest comeback bid, shook off an early bogey with two birdies on the front nine.
He had moved into the top 10 with five pars
to open the back nine before his tee shot at the par-three 15th found the water.
He walked away with a double-bogey and surrendered another shot at the 16th, where his long birdie attempt went past the hole.
But he rallied with a birdie at the par-three 17th—the hardest hole on the course—where he found the middle of the green with his tee shot and drained his 12-foot birdie putt to a massive roar from the gallery.
Woods’s one-over total of 141 put him in a group of 10 players sharing 14th place.
List had posted an early target, firing a 66 for 137. He was joined on three-under by Lovemark, who carded a 69.
List had five birdies and a bogey in his four-under effort, which was the lowest round of the day.
Only 10 players were under par for the tournament through 36 holes.
“I’m really pleased with the way I played—a bunch of pars and just kind of hanging on,” List said. “This golf course is winning this week so far, and I think whoever hangs on the hardest is going to come out on top on Sunday.”
The leaders, both seeking a first US PGA Tour title, were one stroke in front of Webb Simpson (72), Russell Henley (70), Rory Sabbatini (69) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
The halfway cut fell at five-over par, and those who missed it included defending champion Rickie Fowler.
Four-time major-winner Rory McIlroy made it after firing his second straight two-over 72.
Woods said his spot four off the pace put him “right in the ball game.”
“It was a good grind today,” said the 42-year-old 14-time major champion, who is vying to become a contender again after spinal fusion surgery in April.
“I feel like I’m right there. I’m right where I can win a golf tournament. Four back on this golf course with 36 holes to go? Anybody can win this golf tournament right now. It’s wide open.”
Woods had struggled off the tee in finishing tied for 23rd at Torrey Pines last month and in missing the cut at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles last week.
On Friday, he found eight of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation.
After a 361-yard drive at the 10th, he missed a nine-foot birdie try. At 11, he rolled in a 12-foot par-saving putt and he got up and down for par from greenside bunkers at 13 and 14.