Tiger Woods has cranked up his putter and pushed his way into contention after a five-under 65 in the second round at the Quicken Loans National.
After making just 48 feet, seven inches of putts in Thursday’s opening 70, Woods rammed home 122 feet, five inches of them on Friday to move to five under for the tournament and just four shots off the lead.
While his putter was decidedly better, it was a chip in on the 18th hole, his ninth of the round, that really kick-started the 79-time PGA Tour winner’s charge.
Coming off a three-putt bogey on the 17th, Woods missed the 18th green short and to the right but then clipped his wedge shot perfectly for birdie.
It meant he turned two under and made three more birdies in the next five holes to ride the momentum and have him in striking distance of leaders Beau Hossler, Brian Gay and Ryan Armour heading to the weekend.
‘I was hitting that shot in the practice round and it’s exactly the same shot and it was pretty sweet because I was just trying to hit kind of a high-cut spinner in there and it worked out perfectly,’ Woods said of his chip.
Woods had defiantly stated he putted well on Thursday despite ranking 92nd of 120 players in strokes gained: putting.
He reiterated that on Friday when he finished his round ranked eighth for round two in the same stat.
After years of using a blade-style putter, the 42-year-old switched to a mallet style this week.
‘I tried to clean up my ball‑striking a little bit and continue doing what I was doing on the greens yesterday,’ Woods said of his round.
‘I hit a lot of good putts [yesterday], they just didn’t go in. I started on my line with the right pace and today I did that and a lot of them fell.
Perhaps the important part of the round was the final two holes where he got up-and-down for par from bunkers.
It enabled Woods to put Tour win No 80 firmly in his sights.
But with temperatures expected to soar over the weekend, it is going to be tough for all competitors.
Woods sat tied second through 36 holes at the Valspar Championship earlier this season and would go on to be runner-up. He started the weekend just two shots back.
In all his other starts, he’s had to climb from well back to get into contention.
‘I didn’t want to lose it on the last couple holes… I could have easily lost it but I made two nice saves,’ Woods added.
‘I’m not that far away from putting it together where I can win. Right now I’m only four back. I’m in a similar position to where I was at Valspar. The scores aren’t going to be that low and it’s going to be a tough weekend.
‘It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be long grinds. It will be hotter than now, which is scary. It will be over 100°F and it will be a long weekend mentally and physically. I’m in a good position.’
Credit: PGA TOUR