Sunday 28 December 2014

Woods having rough time at Hoylake

Published 18/07/2014 | 17:29

Tiger Woods dropped three shots on the opening two holes
Tiger Woods dropped three shots on the opening two holes

Abandoning the tactics which brought him victory at Royal Liverpool in 2006 proved costly for Tiger Woods in the second round of the 143rd Open Championship on Friday.

Woods famously used his driver just once in 72 holes on his way to a third Open title eight years ago and was similarly circumspect in an opening 69 on Thursday.

However, wayward drives on the first two holes resulted in the 14-time major winner dropping three shots, despite the later starters again appearing to have the best of the conditions.

Woods pulled his opening drive so badly that it ended up in thick rough to the left of the fairway on the adjacent 18th, from where he missed the green with his approach and hacked his third shot onto the green and off the other side.

From there he chipped on and two-putted for a double-bogey, while his drive on the second also found the rough and his approach ran over the back of the green to lead to a bogey.

A run of seven straight pars to the turn left Woods on level par and eight shots adrift of the pace being set by overnight leader Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy had also got off to a slow start with a bogey on the first after overshooting the green with his approach, but reclaimed the lead with a birdie on the fifth after narrowly missing from 40 feet for an eagle.

The former world number one, looking to become only the third player in the modern era after Woods and Jack Nicklaus to win three majors by the age of 25, also holed from 10 feet for birdie on the sixth.

And the Northern Irishman then carded another birdie from close range on the eighth, despite the bizarre scenario of having to wait for an errant pheasant to walk across the green.

At eight under par, McIlroy enjoyed a two-shot lead over Ryder Cup team-mates Francesco Molinari and Sergio Garcia, with Garcia enjoying an eventful round so far.

The Spaniard bogeyed the first after pulling his drive into rough to the left of the fairway on the adjacent 18th, but responded impressively with an eagle at the par-four second - the same hole where he pitched in with a nine-iron in 2006 - when his approach from the semi-rough dropped into the cup.

He gave back a shot after three-putting from 40 feet at the third but made birdie on the par-five fifth and 10th.

Molinari was one over for his round after nine holes but picked up shots on the 10th, 13th and 14th to join Garcia on six under, one ahead of clubhouse leader George Coetzee who had carded a superb 69 on his 28th birthday in the windier conditions hours earlier.

McIlroy moved three shots clear with a birdie on the par-five 10th, although the sheepish grin on his face suggested he felt he had been somewhat fortunate with his chip from heavy rough to the left of the green.

It looked certain he would make it five birdies in seven holes on the next, but surprisingly missed from four feet to remain nine under par.

Molinari remained six under par with two to play, but Garcia dropped a shot on the 14th after his drive stopped inches short of a gorse bush, prompting the Spaniard to don his waterproofs before edging gingerly into the edge of the bush to pitch back onto the fairway.

The Italian completed a round of 70 to set the new clubhouse target on six under, a target matched by playing partner Ryan Moore after the American birdied the 17th and the 18th, the latter after a superb approach to within inches of the hole.

Woods had carded 13 pars in succession to remain level par with three holes to play, with the cut currently predicted to fall at two over par.

Press Association

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