x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Second-round bogeys cost Woods the lead

World No 1 runs into trouble after strong start to day but says 'it feels good to be able to control my ball' after regaining touch at last.

Tiger Woods watches a tee shot during the second round of the Barclays Classic yesterday.
Tiger Woods watches a tee shot during the second round of the Barclays Classic yesterday.

PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY // Tiger Woods made the turn at eight-under par yesterday and held a one-shot lead midway through the second round of the Barclays Classic - but soon ran into the sort of trouble that has left him hanging precariously on to his No 1 world ranking.

Woods, who began the day in first place for the first time 335 days, started on the back nine and birdied the 11th and 18th holes to take sole possession of the lead. But bogeys on the second and fifth holes were enough to send him plummeting down the leader board, and after 15 holes he was in a 10-player tie for sixth place. In addition to Woods taking his first lead in almost a year, Thursday's opening round of 65 was the first time in 12 rounds, dating to the opening round at St Andrews six weeks ago, that he broke 70.

It was also the first time since the 2006 British Open that he hit a three-wood on every par 5, an example of Woods choosing to navigate his way smartly around Ridgewood Country Club in soft conditions. "Being first off with fresh greens, everybody in our group was making putts on the front nine," he said after Thursday's round. "You had to get it today, especially with the wind being down early, and then we had fresh greens so it was good to be out early.

"I just played today. I went out and played, made a few tweaks on the range with my swing. Started off warming up not very good at all. I was hitting it all over the lot but made a couple of tweaks and found what I have been working on. I hit it good today. "It feels good to be able to control my ball all day like this. I haven't done that." He was asked if he felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, after his divorce from his ex-wife Elin was finalised earlier this week.

"I can't really say that's the case," Woods said. "As far as golf, it was nice to put it together." Adam Scott, who was one shot behind Woods after the first round, said he did not think Ridgewood would serve up a 65 to anyone after playing the course earlier in the week. "Seeing some good scores this morning made me change my mind," he said. That one of those scores belonged to Woods was hardly a surprise. "For him to piece things together can't be too hard," Scott said. "He's very good."

The 65 was Woods's lowest score in 46 rounds, dating to a 62 in the BMW Championship last year. And for Woods, the timing could not have been better. Only the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the second round of the play-offs next week in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods at least needs to make the cut, then finish in the middle of the pack to stay in the play-offs. He had a better solution.

"I figure if I win, I should be OK," Woods said. For one of the few times this year, he gave himself ample reason to believe that. * Agencies