ORLANDO: An ill Tiger Woods made his first eagle in 16 months on his way to a two-under par 70 in Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) rain-hit second round of the Hero World Challenge.
The former world number one, playing his first tournament since August’s PGA Championship, closed with a double bogey after a two-hour rain delay to remain last in the 18-man event on three-over 147 after 36 holes.
“It really didn’t feel that much different than it did yesterday,” Woods said, alluding to his opening 77. “I hit maybe two fewer worse shots. I hit it solid. Today I hit it close and made my putts.”
After fighting a morning fever and coughs during his round, Woods showed flashes of the form that brought him 14 major titles, four shy of the record set by Jack Nicklaus.
“I wasn’t feeling my best,” Woods said. “I just had to stay hydrated and try to keep things down.”
Woods, ranked 24th, produced his first eagle since the second round of last year’s WGC event at Firestone by sinking a six-foot putt at the par-5 13th hole.
At 14, he dropped the ball four feet from the cup and made the putt, then added a four-foot birdie putt at 16 and parred 17 before heavy rain struck Isleworth, a delay that would prevent the round from ending before darkness.
Tiger chips need work
When play resumed, Woods put his approach at 18 over the green, then botched a chip by leaving the ball only on the edge of the green. He pitched it to 10 feet but missed his bogey putt.
“It’s not very good,” Woods said of his short game. “It’s going to take more time to develop. It’s a different motion, a different pattern.”
Woods said the swing changes he has undertaken with new consultant Chris Como have had an impact on his chipping as he looks to past styles to revamp his swing and win a major title for the first time since the 2008 US Open.
“The good news is I understand the process. I have made changes before. It takes time,” Woods said.
“I don’t forsee it being a two-year process like I did back [in the 1990s]. I feel like I’ve got the speed. I’m starting to generate power and get the ball out there.”
Five strokes lower on the front nine than round one, Woods avoided the mistakes that marred round one, opening with a birdie after going out of bounds Thursday and making bogey at eight, where he made double bogey on day one.
It was still a sign of rust for a player who once fired a 59 at Isleworth in a practice round.
Reed hot, Spieth halted
US Ryder Cupper Patrick Reed shot a 63 playing alongside Woods in round one, wearing a red shirt as Woods does on Sundays in his first event pairing with his boyhood idol.
“He seemed fine,” Reed said. “He didn’t like the score but he hit some good shots out there. He knew what he was doing.”
Reed had five birdies and an eagle on the front nine and birdied 10 to spark dreams of a 59 of his own, but a bogey at 12 spoiled that hope even after birdies at 13 and 16 that left him sharing third with England’s Justin Rose on eight-under 136.
Jordan Spieth was at five-under par for the second round on the 18th green when it became too dark for him to finish, leaving him atop the leaderboard at 11-under overall, two strokes in front of clubhouse leader Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
“Just wasn’t a good idea to finish. I wouldn’t have been able to see a putt,” Spieth said. “It wouldn’t have made much sense.”
Steve Stricker also elected to wait for Saturday to make his final putt at 18.