Tiger Woods was the clubhouse leader at a PGA Tour event.
If it seems like it’s been awhile since you’ve heard that sentence, it’s because it’s been almost half a decade since Woods walked off a golf course atop the leaderboard. Woods’ score of 68 in Friday’s second round of the Valspar Championship ran his overall score to 4-under and gave him the share of a clubhouse lead for the first time since he won his last PGA Tour event, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that was held way back in Aug. 2013.
Woods would ultimately relinquish the lead to Corey Connors (-6), but no matter what happens over the weekend, Woods storming to a second-round lead is another sign that this comeback seems very different from all the other misfires over the last five years. Combine that with Phil Mickelson’s victory last week at the WGC-Mexico and it looks like maybe golf’s old guys aren’t ready to surrender the stage just yet.
“I’m up there,” Woods said to reporters after the round, which finished with him in a five-way tie for second. “I don’t think this will be leading but I’m there with a chance going into the weekend. Today was a good day.”
Indeed, Woods outperformed playing partner Jordan Spieth over the first two days. Spieth scored a 76-71 for +5 and missed the cut. (The third member of the group, Henrik Stenson, posted a +6 and is also headed home.)
Despite a chilly morning in Tampa, Woods’ first appearance at Valspar has drawn Sunday-at-a-major-type galleries. Woods rewarded the support on Friday with a round that started in 50-degree temperatures on the 10th hole and featured birdies on his third and fourth holes of the day.
After making the turn, Woods nailed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 2nd, drawing even with Jimmy Walker at 4-under. He then birdied the fifth hole to get to -5 under and the outright lead.
Woods then delivered perhaps his best putt of the day, a tough par save on No. 7 that elicited one of Tiger’s trademark fist pumps as the ball hit the bottom of the cup.
Woods had a chance to hit the clubhouse with the outright lead, but scored his first bogey of the day on the 18th hole of the day when his approach shot hit a woman’s purse and he failed to get up and down after a drop.
Woods opened the tournament with a one-under 70 in much tougher conditions on Thursday, a round that included a painful wrap around a tree on the 16th hole. Woods left that shot shaking his wrist, but didn’t appear to suffer any serious damage.
Woods now enters the weekend with a legitimate shot at his first victory since 2013 and odds are good that we’ll see something we haven’t seen in many, many years: Sunday red-and-black on the leaderboard.
It should be a fun weekend and if Friday’s interest is any indication, it’ll post a high ratings mark. So many people tuned into the PGA Tour Live subscription service during the second round that it crashed for about 25 minutes for some users.
Tigermania seems to be back.
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