Woods, making his return to the golf tour following an almost four-month layoff caused by knee and Achilles tendon injuries, shot 1-over-par 71 yesterday at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, in a second round that included four birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey. He’s at 1 under overall, tied for 36th place.
Scott, who now employs Woods’s former caddie, Steve Williams, bogeyed his final hole yesterday to finish even for the day and to remain at 8 under. He’s tied for the lead with Ryan Moore, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler, who shot a 6-under 64 in the second round.
If Fowler, 22, can win the $8.5 million tournament, he would be the youngest person ever to win a World Golf Championships event. The youngest so far is Woods, who was 23 when he won the Bridgestone Invitational in 1999.
After beginning the second round with a par on the 10th hole, Woods, a 14-time major tournament winner, missed a birdie chance on the 11th when his eight-foot putt failed to drop. After bogeys on the par-4 14th and par-3 15th, Woods made a brief move up the leaderboard with birdies on the next two holes. He then went through a stretch of a bogey, birdie, double-bogey and birdie on Nos. 4-7, and finished the day with consecutive pars.
“I didn’t putt as well as I did yesterday, and consequently I just never got the round going,” Woods told reporters. “It was just not very good.”
Scott is playing in his fourth tournament with Williams as his caddie and said the partnership has helped revitalize his career. Scott has three wins on the U.S. PGA Tour since winning the 2006 Tour Championship and struggled with his putting before switching to a broomstick-length putter this year.
“I had a tough couple years and was very frustrated on the golf course,” Scott told reporters after the second round. “To have that fresh face come on with his confidence and belief in my ability, absolutely, it’s another little jolt that inspires you to work a little harder.”
Scott said the duo doesn’t discuss Woods while working together.
“I’m not too interested in where Tiger’s game is at, honestly,” Scott said. “I’ve got enough on my plate worrying about my own game. I don’t think I’m going to get any inside scoop that’s going to really make a difference to me.”
Martin Laird of Scotland, Jason Day of Australia and Robert Karlsson of Sweden are tied for fifth at 7 under, one shot ahead of Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson and American Brandt Snedeker. Phil Mickelson shot a 3-over 73 yesterday and is at even par for the tournament.
For the second straight day, Woods said his biggest issue with his game is learning to control how far he hits his irons because his swing speed has changed since he began working with coach Sean Foley.
“I’m hitting the ball so much farther,” he said after yesterday’s round. “I’m hitting the ball numbers I’ve never hit before. I’m swinging better so I’ve got to get used to the numbers.”
Woods’s last competitive round before this week was May 12, when he pulled out of the Players Championship after nine holes. The former No. 1-ranked player dropped to 28th in the Official World Golf Ranking during his absence from the U.S. PGA Tour.
He is playing with childhood friend Bryon Bell as his caddie after firing Williams last month.
A year ago, Woods finished next to last at Firestone after shooting 18 over par, his worst 72-hole score as a professional.
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