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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, December 02, 2017 1:00 am

Golf

Woods leads briefly after 31 on front 9, finishes 5 off

Staff, news services

NASSAU, Bahamas – One of the biggest cheers at the Hero World Challenge came from seeing the name Tiger Woods moved to the top of the leader board.

It just wasn't there for long.

In another impressive showing in his latest comeback from back surgeries, Woods built on a solid start with a 31 on the front nine at Albany Golf Club that briefly gave him the lead Friday. He stalled on the back nine with a pair of bogeys and not enough birdie chances, and he settled for a 4-under 68.

“Successful,” Woods said, when asked to describe his round in one word.

When the second round ended, Woods was five shots behind Charley Hoffman, who had a 63 that might have sent fans into a frenzy if they had been watching.

Hoffman made 12 birdies, closing with five in a row. He was at 12-under 132 and had a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth (67) and Tommy Fleetwood (69). Hoffman made only one par over his final 12 holes to go along with eight birdies and three bogeys.

Woods opened with three birdies in four holes. He made three good pars, one of them having to chip up the slope from a thin lie on No. 8, and then really raised hopes with his eagle on the par-5 ninth, set up by a 3-wood into the wind from 265 yards.

“Hit up in the air and took something off of it and cut it back into the wind,” he said.

He made the 20-foot putt to reach 8 under. Behind him, Hoffman made bogey on the par-3 eighth. Woods was alone in the lead.

“I saw somewhere on the back nine, I think there was like five guys at 8 under or something like that, something weird like that,” Woods said.

Woods didn't make a bogey until a three-putt from 30 feet on the 12th hole. The greens were quicker, and that's where he struggled. He had an eagle attempt from just short of the 15th green, about 45 feet away, that he ran 15 feet by the hole. He missed that for a three-putt par.

He played the par 5s in 4 under, a five-shot improvement from Thursday.

 

AUSTRALIAN PGA: In Gold Coast, Australia, Marc Leishman took advantage of an early start to shoot a 7-under 65 and move into a share of the second-round lead.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia was six strokes behind after a 71, and Adam Scott missed the cut after shooting 74 at Royal Pines.

Leishman's at 12-under 132 and tied with Adam Bland, who shot 66 on a morning of good scoring conditions – soft greens and little wind. Greg Chalmers (66) was two strokes behind in third.

“When you're on a run like that and playing well, you sort of can afford to be aggressive,” Leishman said. “If you make a few mistakes, you feel like you can make some birdies.”

Defending champion Harold Varner III of the United States, who teed off with Leishman at 6:10 a.m., shot 66 and was five strokes behind.

Garcia had two birdies and a double-bogey on the front nine before three birdies and two bogeys on the back.

“It wasn't my best day out there,” Garcia said. “I hit a couple really nice putts, but probably a little bit tired, I think, physically and mentally. Because of that, obviously my golf game wasn't as sharp as I would like it to be. But I guess the good thing is we still fought hard, we stayed in it.”

CHAMPIONS: In Scottsdale, Arizona, Tom Byrum eagled the first hole of a playoff with Tommy Tolles to win the PGA Tour Champions' National Qualifying Tournament at TPC Scottsdale.

Byrum and Tolles earned full exemptions for next season along with Kent Jones, Tim Petrovic, and re-instated amateur Ken Tanigawa. Fort Wayne native Scott Pieri tied for 44th after shooting a final-round 1-over 72 for a four-round 281 total.

Those finishing in the top 30 and ties are eligible to compete in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on PGA Tour Champions in 2018.