Tiger Woods, playing in his final event before next month’s Masters Tournament, trails leader Jason Dufner by six shots during today’s second round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods shot a 3-under-par 69 yesterday and is tied with seven other players including Anthony Kim, who had his first hole-in-one on the U.S. PGA Tour yesterday; K.J. Choi; Justin Rose, and Sean O’Hair.
Dufner holds a one-shot lead over Graeme McDowell, and is two in front of Charlie Wi, who ended yesterday’s first round tied with Dufner for the lead at 6-under. Sergio Garcia, Charles Howell III and Vijay Singh are at 5-under.
Dufner increased his lead over the field this morning with birdies on his first two holes. He was 4-under on his round through 13 holes before dropping his lone shot with a bogey on the par-5 sixth. It’s the third time this season that Dufner entered the second round with at least a share of the lead.
“I played pretty solid again,” Dufner told reporters. “A birdie-birdie start gets you comfortable and feeling like you’re going to have a good day.”
Wi, who begins his second round this afternoon, finished runner-up at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last month, shooting a season-best 61 on the opening day.
Woods is a six-time winner of the event at Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando and will resume play this afternoon in a group with two-time U.S. Open winner Ernie Els and Hunter Mahan. Woods had four birdies and a bogey in his opening round.
Kim, also an afternoon starter today, holed a 5-iron shot from 200 yards on the par-3 17th yesterday for an ace en route to a 3-under 69. It was the seventh hole-in-one at No. 17 and the 15th in the history of the event.
Woods, who withdrew from the Cadillac Championship outside Miami this month with a strained left Achilles, now has played a round on five straight days. He resumed play March 18 with a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club, site of the first major tournament of the season in Augusta, Georgia. The Masters starts April 5.
A four-time winner of the Masters, Woods is seeking his first full-field tournament victory in 2 1/2 years.
Woods secured the latest of his 14 major titles at the 2008 U.S. Open. The most recent of his 71 titles on the U.S. PGA Tour came at the BMW Championship in September 2009. Woods won a limited-field tournament he hosts in California in December, his lone stroke-play victory over the past two years.