Red-hot Tiger siz­zles at World Chal­lenge

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SUNDAY SPORTS - By REUTERS in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia

Tiger Woods' clos­est chal­lengers were left scratch­ing their heads in dis­be­lief af­ter the world No 1 took con­trol of the North­west­ern Mu­tual World Chal­lenge with a 10-un­der-par 62. Five-time cham­pion Woods played near-flaw­less golf on Fri­day in the sec­ond round of the tour­na­ment he hosts, equal­ing the course record he set at Sher­wood Coun­try Club in 2007 to end the day two shots ahead of the rest of the field.

His stun­ning 10-birdie 62 was five strokes bet­ter than the nextbest score in an elite field of 18, North­ern Ire­land's de­fend­ing cham­pion Graeme McDow­ell and Eng­land's Ian Poul­ter both hav­ing carded 67s.

“Amaz­ing what Tiger did out there,” Amer­i­can Matt Kuchar said af­ter shoot­ing a sec­ond suc­ces­sive 68 to sit three strokes off the pace in third spot at eight un­der.

“It's just some in­cred­i­ble golf. The rest of us, my fou­run­der score is kind of a good barom­e­ter. That's some good qual­ity play­ing. Ten un­der is an amaz­ing round of golf, but I'd cer­tainly take two more rounds of four-un­der par.”

Kuchar ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for two-time World Chal­lenge cham­pion McDow­ell, who was paired with Woods for the sec­ond round but lost ground de­spite fir­ing a five-birdie 67.

“I kind of felt sorry for Graeme,” said Kuchar, a dou­ble win­ner on the 2013 PGA Tour.

“I saw he posted a five­un­der-par round, and it must have felt like it was two or three over.

“It's tough when you are paired with a guy like that. It makes you feel like you are not do­ing much. But the rest of us just go about our busi­ness."

McDow­ell, who clinched the World Chal­lenge for the first time with a play­off vic­tory over Woods in 2010, was full of ad­mi­ra­tion af­ter hav­ing a ring­side seat on Fri­day for the Amer­i­can's 62.

“It was a clinic,” the North­ern Ir­ish­man said. "It was cool to see that kind of golf. He was un­der con­trol. He hit it down the mid­dle of ev­ery fair­way.”

First- round leader Zach John­son birdied his fi­nal hole for a bo­gey-free 68 to se­cure out­right sec­ond place and was largely sat­is­fied with his round.

“I had op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said John­son, who had opened with a 67.

“I had some putts on the back nine, op­por­tu­ni­ties where I could have got up and down for birdie and a cou­ple of those par-fives that I didn't.

“Other than that, it was a pretty solid day. No com­plaints. I mean, you fin­ish with a birdie on 18, you take it."

The av­er­age score on Fri­day was 70.78, al­most nine strokes worse than the 62 posted by Woods, who is seek­ing a record sixth vic­tory at the event and his sixth tour­na­ment win this year.

MARK J. TER­RILL/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tiger Woods tees off at the sec­ond hole dur­ing the sec­ond round of the North­west­ern Mu­tual World Chal­lenge in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif., on Fri­day.

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