- WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Round Two
Woods' resurgence hits the rocks in Ohio
Tiger Woods' hopes of a dramatic comeback victory were seriously damaged as he lost ground on day two of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
Woods, playing his first tournament since May after recovering from leg injuries, carded a tumultuous one-over 71 that was notable for its unpredictability, with as many good shots as bad.
Although Woods was better from the tee on day two - hitting 57% of his fairways as opposed to 36% on Thursday - he was often clumsy with the irons, and his putting was no more than average. The bookmakers, who installed him as joint-favourite for the US PGA Championship based on his opening 18 holes, can rest a little easier.
The American began the tournament with a commendable 68 that left him enthusing over the state of his game, but he failed to build on that platform as the on-course gremlins that have haunted him since April 2010 began to resurface.
Beginning on the back nine, he missed a par-putt from two feet on the 14th and failed to get up and down from just off the green at the next, before picking up shots at successive holes with birdie putts from ten and six feet.
The front nine was similarly chaotic - he birdied both the par threes, but also succumbed to a bogey at the fourth and a damaging double-bogey at six, which leaves him one-under for the tournament and squinting to see the leaders: Adam Scott, Ryan Moore, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley, who are all eight-under, one ahead of Scotland's Martin Laird.
Scott's presence at the summit must be particularly galling for Woods, as his former caddie Steve Williams is currently working the bag for the Australian. Nonetheless, he was in sanguine mood after walking off the 18th green.
"I know my stats don't show it, but just the way I'm driving the golf ball, the start lines are so much tighter, and the shape of the shots are so much tighter," Woods said. "I'm so close to putting the ball on a string, so it's coming."
Open champion Darren Clarke, Woods' playing partner, probably wishes there was a half-way cut at the tournament - he is rooted to the foot of the field at 11-over following a 74. Paul Casey is seven shots better off, while Simon Dyson is three-over thanks to a 66 - but he is fighting against the tide after his opening 77.
Ian Poulter, whose season has been a story of disappointment, took just 23 putts in a 69 on day two and now sits level-par. That put him one ahead of playing partners Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose, both round in 70.
Lee Westwood looked on course to be within touching distance of the top after picking up birdies at three of the first ten holes, but he closed with four bogeys in his final six to leave him heading into day three on a downer, and two-under overall. World No. 1 Luke Donald is three-under, with Rory McIlroy four-under.