Tuesday 25 September 2018

Form delights Tiger in Turkey Woods poised to pounce after flawless round

TURKEY SHOOT: Pádraig Harrington plays a shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey.
TURKEY SHOOT: Pádraig Harrington plays a shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey.

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 on Thursday, 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.

"The greens are slow, the greens are soft and I expect guys to make a lot of birdies – it's so bunched up there."

The 37-year-old 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.

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.

Best of the Irish was Pádraig Harrington, who carded a 70 to leave him six shots behind Walters, while Damien McGrane hit a 73, with Shane Lowry further down the field after carding a round of 75.

Stenson birdied four of the last eight holes of his first round upon resuming yesterday 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 bet with the Swede at odds of 10/1.

"I told him I was going to chase him down," said Poulter.

"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 hundred bucks, but I also said, 'if I manage to catch you, we'll have a nice night out and you have to pour my drinks for the evening'."

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