November 13, 2019, 23:24

Tiger Woods remains in hunt as Charley Hoffman races into three-shot lead

Tiger Woods remains in hunt as Charley Hoffman races into three-shot lead

Highlights from the second round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas as Tiger Woods continued his impressive return to competitive golf, while Charley Hoffman stormed into the lead

Tiger Woods continued his encouraging return to competitive golf as Charley Hoffman claimed the halfway lead at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

Woods set the pulses racing as he birdied three of the first four holes in the second round and then eagled the ninth to cap an outward 31 and claim the outright lead, although he faltered down the stretch as Hoffman surged into a three-shot lead when he closed out a 63 with five consecutive birdies.

Overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood overcame a mid-round stutter to regain a share of second with Jordan Spieth, while Justin Rose heads into the weekend four shots off the pace with Woods among a five-way tie for fifth.

Woods was in great touch from tee to green over the front nine, although he raced a number of putts past the hole and later admitted he struggled to get to grips with the fast pace of the Albany putting surfaces.

The tournament host got off to a great start when he converted a precise wedge to five feet at the opening hole, and he holed from seven feet for another at the third before pitching to four feet for another gain at the next.

The 41-year-old did well to save par at the next three holes before hammering a towering 271-yard three-wood to 20 feet at the long ninth and rolling in the chance for eagle which lifted him to the top of the leaderboard on eight under par.

Woods showed a vast improvement with his chipping from day one and came within inches of pitching in for another eagle at the 11th, but he offset the birdie when he three-putted the next green from 50 feet.

A birdie chance went begging at 15 when he putted 20 feet long from the front fringe, and after a superb par-save with an inventive chip from the green at the 17th, Woods dropped another shot at the last after blocking his drive into a sandy waste area and was unable to go at the green in two from a poor lie.

Tiger Woods was not raising his expectations as he reflected on an encouraging second-round 68 at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas

As Woods reflected on his disappointing finish, Hoffman took control of the tournament as he carded a remarkable nine-under 63 which featured 12 birdies, three bogeys and only three pars.

Hoffman birdied four of the first five holes and turned in 31 before following his seventh birdie of the day with back-to-back bogeys as he slipped to seven under.

But he finished with a flourish as five straight birdies lifted him three clear of Spieth, who mixed five birdies with two bogeys in an outward 33 and picked up further shots at 14 and 15 before parring in to complete a solid 67.

Fleetwood continued his fine form with birdies at two of the first three holes and he remained in the lead until a wayward drive at the 10th derailed his round as he needed two attempts to stab his ball back into play from the dunes.

The Race to Dubai champion scrapped his way to a double-bogey six and dropped another shot at the 10th, but he produced a positive response and reeled off three consecutive birdies from the 13th and parred home to sign for a 69.

Rose was losing ground on the leaders after a bogey at the 10th dropped him back to four under for the tournament, but he then revived his challenge with four birdies over the next six holes as he matched his opening 68.

Francesco Molinari keeps putter use to a minimum in the second round of the Hero World Challenge as he makes an eagle and a birdie with superb hole-outs

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama also hit the birdie trail and he made three in a row from the 13th to join Rose on eight under, although the Japanese ace dropped his only shot of the day at the last to take some gloss off a 66 which left him five off the lead along with Woods, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler and Francesco Molinari.

The Italian’s 68 featured a hole-out for eagle at the sixth and a sparkling run of five birdies in a row on the back nine before a bogey at 17 halted his momentum.

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