Sunday 20 April 2014

Red-hot McDowell leaves Woods in his wake

GRAEME McDOWELL set himself up for a thrilling Sunday afternoon showdown with tournament host Tiger Woods with a sizzling 66 at Sherwood Country Club.

McDowell blazed into top gear with a hat-trick of birdies on the first three holes and had seven on his card at the finish as he completed the low round at this year's World Challenge.

This stirring second-round effort propelled him to the lead on nine-under-par, three clear of his nearest challengers, Bo van Pelt, Jim Furyk and Keegan Bradley.

Woods played nicely for a 69 and, in fifth place on five-under, he's still well within reach of McDowell (33).

Clinching a first victory in 24 months on a course that plainly brings the best out of him would be a massive confidence boost to the Portrush man as he heads into the longest break of his career – he is not scheduled to resume until February's Northern Trust Open.

During his 10 weeks off, he plans to work on his short game, especially his putting, which he admits let him down in 2012.

Yet McDowell performed brilliantly from 125 yards and in yesterday, setting up nine birdie chances with his wedges and tucking away seven of them.

"I putted a little better today," said McDowell. "I've had a cold putter all year so it was really nice to tuck away a few chances."

Tiger Woods World Challenge

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.0pm

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