Calif. - For the final tournament at Sherwood Country Club,
Tiger Woods seems intent on leaving a lasting impression.
He only missed
one fairway Friday in the World Challenge. He putted for birdie
on every hole. Only once was he under stress to make par. And
when he finished his second round with a pair of pars, Woods
matched his course record with a 10-under 62 and was in a
familiar position going into the weekend.
five-time winner at Sherwood, had a two-shot lead over Zach
fun to watch," said Graeme McDowell, who tied for the
second-best round of the day and fell six shots behind.
Woods was at
11-under 133 and will be paired in the last group Saturday with
Johnson, who missed a few good birdie chances on the back nine
but still managed a 68. Johnson is a two-time runner-up at the
World Challenge, both times to Woods.
Matt Kuchar had
a 68 and was three shots behind, and no one else was closer than
little reason to believe he would tie his course record at
Sherwood, which he set in 2007 during one of his victories.
Nothing was going right on the practice range. And even though
he opened with two birdies, the pin was accessible on No. 1 and
the second hole is a par 5 that featured a front pin.
"I hit a
good tee shot down No. 1, good second shot in there to a
kick-in, and it still didn't feel very good," Woods said.
"But think the third hole was a nice shot in there. It was
the first swing I made, even during warm-up, that felt really
good, and I tried to keep that feeling the rest of the day. And
I did. I hit a lot of good shots after that."
It was the 10th
time Woods has shot 62 or lower in a tournament. He went on to
win six of those events. The exceptions were the 1999 Byron
Nelson Classic (61 in the first round), the 2005 Buick Open (61
in the second round) and the 2012 Honda Classic (62 in the final
This is his
final event of the year, though Woods has been around long
enough to keep it in perspective.
rounds," he said.
No one is ready
to concede this tournament to Woods, except for those at the far
end of this 18-man field. Hunter Mahan had an 80, Dustin Johnson
had a 79 and Rory McIlroy, coming off a win at the Australian
Open, had a 77.
what Tiger did out there. It's just some incredible golf,"
Kuchar said. "I kind of felt sorry for Graeme McDowell. I
saw he posted a 5-under-par round, and it must have felt like it
was 2 or 3 over. It's tough when you're paired with a guy like
that. It makes you feel like you're not doing much. But the rest
of us just go about our business."
watching what he felt like was an exhibition — Woods' golf,
not the tournament — McDowell figured he could still defend
his title if he could nail down the speed of the greens, which
are running on the fast side.
That's what set
Woods apart on another chilly day at Sherwood. Not only did he
make the putts, he rarely was in a position where he had to
stress over par. The lone exception came on the par-3 12th, when
Woods was in such a precarious spot above the hole that he had
no intention of trying to make birdie. He would have had to
start the ball high on a ridge to get it to roll near the hole,
and that would mean more speed going by. So he aimed for the low
side and made the 10-foot par putt coming back.
think I've seen them quite this fast unless we get Santa Ana's
blowing when it's dry," Woods said. "I mean, this is
the last tournament of the year for a lot of us. I'd think
they'd make it a little easier on us. But they gave it to us
pretty good the last couple days. You miss the ball in the wrong
spots, you're making bogeys."
went more than two holes without a birdie. One of the few times
he was above the hole, Woods hit his putt on a perfect line with
the right pace and dipped his knees when it dropped in the right
side of the cup.
Even as he
dropped further behind, McDowell couldn't help but appreciate a
flawless round of golf.
that," he said. "It was cool to see that kind of golf.
He was under control. He hit it down the middle of every
fairway. He didn't have that kind of violence with his speed
through the ball."
Woods said he
was similar to the 61 he shot this summer at Firestone, where he
went on to win by seven shots.
Firestone is obviously a much more difficult golf course than
Sherwood," Woods said. "But as far as quality
ball-striking, I hit it equally as good today, if not even
challenge Woods, along with everyone else, is a forecast of rain
and then wind for the final two days.