Tiger Woods thrills, but Hoffman enjoys lead with dozen birdies

Dec 03, 2017, 12:58 IST | V Krishnaswamy

There was pin drop silence as the ball began its journey 20-foot journey and then when it dropped the crowd, sparse though it was, exploded and high-fives followed all around at the Hero World Challenge.

There was pin drop silence as the ball began its journey 20-foot journey and then when it dropped the crowd, sparse though it was, exploded and high-fives followed all around at the Hero World Challenge. Tiger Woods was back. That eagle on the ninth completed a stunning 5-under 31 front nine and gave him sole possession of the lead at 8-under through 27 holes in the second round.

Woods thrills, but Hoffman enjoys lead with dozen birdies

The news seemingly missed by on-course leader board volunteers was quickly rectified amidst cries of "You are the man" and "He is back" while strangers hugged each other. The Bahamian holiday atmosphere was unmistakable as Woods gave them all an early Christmas present – a slight smile in return. The back nine saw him stagger to one-over 37 and finished at 68 for 7-under 137, five behind leader, Charley Hoffman, who holed everything from everywhere and nailed a dozen birdied enroute a 63.

hoffman

"Successful," was how Woods described his round in one word. He elaborated, "I think it was successful because I went out there and shot 31 on the front nine. I built upon what I did yesterday, I cleaned it up. Only thing I really struggled with today was speed of the greens. Henrik and I were talking about it all day is that they seemed to be like a foot faster. I really did struggle getting the speed and I blew most of them well past the hole and made a few coming back." Armed with his best single nine score since 2013, when he won five times, the expectations are higher. "I felt I could have easily gotten to double digits under par. That would have put me probably one or two back, but I think I'm still in it," he said.

But for Woods, the smiling Hoffman, who has not won since the Texas Open in 2016, would have been the toast and the headlines, too. Hoffman closed with five birdies in a row made 12 birdies to reach 12-under 132 and had a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth (67) and Tommy Fleetwood (69). Hoffman had only one par in his last 12 holes, which included eight birdies and three bogeys. Clad in white with a tinge of grey, as opposed to black on first day, Woods raised visions of the familiar red shirt leading the parade on Sunday with three birdies.

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