Friday 23 March 2018

'Tiger Roar' gives Woods sweet taste of old days

William S Callahan

TIGER WOODS gave yesterday's sun-splashed galleries at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a taste of what life used be like on the professional fairways.

A 'Tiger Roar' of sorts was heard once again at Bay Hill as the wind dropped to a whisper and Woods took advantage of receptive greens to post a sweet 68.

"It did sound a bit like the old days out there," he agreed. "It felt good."

Tiger's prospects of clinching a seventh career victory in Arnold Palmer's 'back garden' could not be discounted as he entered the weekend at three-under, six shy of Martin Laird's lead. The big-hitting Scotsman eased one ahead of Korean KJ Choi (64) and Californian Spencer Levin (70) with a sizzling 65, which featured an eagle at 16.

There certainly were strong echoes of past heroics by Woods on Bay Hill's 18th green as he holed a stunning 53-foot birdie putt from the fringe to make the turn in three-under.

Despite dumping his second shot into the water at three for his only bogey, Tiger bounced back in vintage fashion by sinking an 11-foot birdie putt at five. He brought his round to a satisfying conclusion by holing from 23 feet for a closing birdie at nine.

Woods 'wallows' at world No 5 after the longest winless streak of his career but his ambition has survived recent humiliations, judging by his post-round frustration with the handful of "dead centre" putts he left short. "It could have been a pretty special round if I'd hit them a little harder," he sighed. "Yet I'm still right in there."

Looking towards the US Masters in a fortnight, Woods added: "My game's building ... it's coming. The things Sean (Foley) and I are working on are starting to become a little more fluid."

Sergio Garcia (31) also looked like his former self as he joined Tiger on three-under with a second-round 68.

Graeme McDowell missed the weekend at this final tour outing before Augusta after following up Thursday's shocking 80 with a lack-lustre one-over-par 73.

Like McDowell in the first round, Phil Mickelson racked up a triple-bogey eight at the treacherous sixth yesterday as a second-round 75 dropped him to one-over for the tournament.

Irish Independent

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