Patience has paid off for Tiger Woods at the halfway point of the British Open.
Woods used a strong start to charge up the leaderboard in the first round and a conservative strategy to stay there in the second round. Now the pressure is on him to do one more thing. Woods needs to finish the weekend strong. Anything less than being in contention to win down to the final holes on Sunday will serve as a statement that Woods has not fully completed his comeback.
Winning the British Open to capture his 15th major would, on the other hand, speak volumes. The best news for Woods and his fans is that he is in a favorable position to break that grand slam drought.
Woods shot a 3-under 67 for the second consecutive day to move to 6-under over 36 holes. He is alone in third place behind Adam Scott and Brandt Snedeker. Scott is second at 9-under and Snedeker leads the field at 10-under.
Snedeker garnered plenty of attention in the second round by shooting a 6-under 64. He was fantastic sinking long distance birdies. Snedeker smacked home a 45 foot birdie on the 6th hole and sank three others in the 20 foot range. Along the way, he tied the 36-hole British Open scoring record Nick Faldo set in 1992.
Woods cost himself a couple of chances to close the gap with conservative choices. On both par-5s at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, he played irons off the tee and gave himself too great of a distance to the green. Snedeker and Scott, on the other hand, birdied both holes using drivers. Woods will need to play some aggressive golf and take more chances if he wants to prevent a slide out of the top five over the weekend.
Still, his finish to the second round offers a statement that Woods might be finding his groove at the right time. Woods birdied the 16th and 18th holes to close out the day and secure third place. His final birdie came off an excellent recovery when he holed out of a greenside bunker and rolled the ball into the cup.
One significant thing about Woods' position on the leaderboard is that he has never been lower than fifth on the leaderboard heading into the weekend in any of his 14 major victories. It marks the first time since the 2006 British Open where Woods has shot 67 or better in the first two rounds of a major. He has opened a major with two rounds in the 60s seven previous times. Woods came away the winner on all seven occasions.
It does not guarantee Woods will be crowned the 2012 British Open champion, but it does increase the odds in his favor. Woods needs to mirror what he did on Friday's final holes to make it a reality. He needs to finish strong.
John Coon enjoys getting in a round from time to time in the Salt Lake City area when he is not covering golf as a freelance sports reporter.