Tiger Woods has matched his low round of the year with a sizzling five-under-par 66 on Friday and moved into contention to end a two-year win drought at the PGA Quicken Loans National.
Woods, a 14-time major champion who also serves as tournament host this week, sank a 36-foot birdie putt on his penultimate hole to highlight a day where he leaped among the leaders on eight-under 134 for 36 holes.
“I’m in a good spot,” Woods said. “I’m looking forward to the weekend. I’m looking forward to getting after it.”
Woods shot 68 in Thursday’s first round with four birdies in a row to start the back nine, his longest birdie run since the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, the last event Woods won in a season where he took five titles and PGA Player of the Year honours.
“I feel like I can still compete and win,” Woods said. “It’s not that long ago I was Player of the Year. I just need to keep playing and keep plugging along.”
Former world number one Woods, now ranked 266th, struggled much of last year with back problems and played poorly this season trying to make changes in his swing motion. But the 39-year-old American has stressed patience and warned fans it would take time to regain top form.
“I know my ranking is awful,” Woods said. “Eventually I’ll climb back.
“I’ve been through this before. It takes a little time. Got to be patient with it. I know what I’m doing out there. It’s just a matter of time before things click in and get more jelled. That takes time.”
Woods, who last won a major title at the 2008 US Open, has 79 career PGA titles, three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record.
Woods equaled a 66 in the first round at the Greenbrier Classic as his best 2015 round and hasn’t had a lower 18 holes since the Honda Classic third round 16 months ago.
“People want the immediate fix, the one tip that’s going to work for the rest of their life,” Woods said. “It doesn’t work that way. Takes time to build it.”
Woods’ strong round Friday took time to build as well. He began on the back nine with four pars then botched his tee shot and made bogey at the par-five 14th.
He responded with birdies at 15 and 18 but pondered what might have been after four lipouts on early birdie putts.
“This could have been one of those really low rounds,” he said.
Woods holed birdie putts of 10 feet at 18, four feet at the first, 20 feet at the par-three fourth and seven feet at the par-five fifth before his monster birdie at the par-five eighth.
“That bomb on eight, that was a bit lucky but I’ll take it,” Woods said. “If I had not seen (Nick Watney’s) putt first I probably would not have played that much break. His putt snapped at the end and I gave it some extra, another foot and a half, and it went in.
“I putted pretty aggressively. I felt very comfortable hitting the putts.”