Tiger burning bright with second-round rebound
TIGER Woods produced a flawless second-round 63 at the Turkish Airlines Open to lie just one shot off the lead at the halfway stage in Antalya.
Unrecognisable from the player who struggled from the tee yesterday, the world number one fired nine birdies to reach 11 under for the week at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal to sit hot on the heels of a leading group that features Race to Dubai contenders Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter.
"I played a lot better and made some putts," said the American, who climbed from 52nd to fifth on the leaderboard on day two.
"I missed some too, so it was a round that could have been really special but I'm right there.
"We're going to have to continue going low here given the way the course is set-up.
"The greens are slow, the greens are soft and I expect guys to make a lot of birdies - it's so bunched up there. I've just got to go get it."
Meanwhile, Padraig Harringon lies six shots off the pace after a two-under-par 70, Damien McGrane is one-under after a 73 while Shane Lowry is three-over after a 75.
But the day belonged to Woods, who had looked decidedly rusty on day one of his first competitive start for a month, hitting only two fairways over the 10 holes he played to be six off the lead after lightning and heavy rain had delayed yesterday's action by three hours.
Matters looked to be improving for the 14-time major champion when he resumed his first round, a chip to inside five feet providing a gain at the 11th and another birdie coming two holes later.
But a dropped shot at the 18th, where he took three shots to get down from just off the edge of the green, saw Woods sign for a two-under-par 70 to remain six adrift on completion of the first round.
It was a different story when the second round began, however.
In glorious conditions Woods struck an iron close at the par-three second, holed from 12 feet at the third, then reached the green in two at the long fourth and two-putted to complete a hat-trick of birdies.
A 15-foot putt at the sixth followed, before sticking his approach to five feet at the ninth to complete a brilliant outward 30.
Woods converted from 18 feet at the 10th, but missed three birdie chances from inside 10 feet over the next four holes.
His response was to hit it even closer; a wonderful approach to three feet at the 15th remarkably bettered two holes later as the ball finished within inches of the cup, with a birdie at the last completing his scoring.
Stenson had birdied four of the last eight holes of his first round upon resuming this morning to surge into a share of the lead, and a second-round 68 was enough to keep the Swede there alongside Poulter, France's Victor Dubuisson and South African Justin Walters.
Stenson and Poulter are first and fourth in The Race to Dubai with only next week's DP Tour World Championship remaining in the European Tour's inaugural final series after this event.
And the pair have made a wager as to who will be crowned European number one, with the English Ryder Cup star placing a 100-dollar bet with the Swede at odds of 10-1.
"I told him I was going to chase him down," said Poulter.
"He was so far in front, he said he'd like to put a little bet on it, but I said I need some odds so he gave me 10-1.
"I had a little hundred bucks, but I also said 'look, if I manage to catch you, we will have a nice night out and you have to pour my drinks for the evening'.
"A thousand bucks isn't really an issue for him, but pouring my drinks might be an issue for him."
Poulter chipped in at the 14th and holed a curling 30-footer at the 16th as he birdied four of his last six holes for a 12 under halfway total.
Walters, who emotionally holed a 40-foot putt on the final green at last month's Portugal Masters to secure his playing card for next season just two weeks after his mother died, signed for a second-round 66, while 23-year-old Dubuisson carded a 65.