Woods finds his range late

Wat­ney sets siz­zling pace in Shang­hai... but it’s not enough

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SHANG­HAI: Tiger Woods birdied his fi­nal hole to com­plete a sec­ond round five­un­der-par 67 that moved him into a share of the lead with Amer­i­can com­pa­triot Nick Wat­ney at the half­way stage of the WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons here yes­ter­day.

The world num­ber one had spur ned a raft of birdie chances early on an­other sunny day at the She­shan In­ter­na­tional but made no mis­take with a short putt at the 18th and joined first round leader Wat­ney, who shot a 70, on 10-un­der for the tour­na­ment.

World num­ber two Phil Mick­el­son picked up his sixth birdie of the day at the last for a 66 to stand a stroke be­hind the leaders, along­side com­pa­triot Ryan Moore (69) and Spain’s Al­varo Quiros (66) in a share of third.

Woods, run­ner-up on both his pre­vi­ous vis­its to Shang­hai, backed off his open­ing drive a cou­ple of times be­cause of cam­eras click­ing in the gallery but re­cov­ered his com­po­sure suf­fi­ciently to start his round with a birdie.

There fol­lowed a suc­ces­sion of missed birdie putts be­fore an er­rant drive at the sixth left him bash­ing a rub­bish bin with his club in frus­tra­tion.

The er­ror re­sulted in the sole blem­ish of his round but he fi­nally got a putt down at the ninth and came home in fou­run­der-par, the high­light of his back nine a 20-foot chip-in for birdie from the rough above a greenside bunker at the 16th.

“To­day got off to a good start and I birdied the very first hole,” Woods said. “But af­ter that, I didn’t re­ally make any putts. I had cer­tainly some looks at them and didn’t re­ally cap­i­talise on any­thing.

“It cer­tainly was a lit­tle bit frus­trat­ing, but the guys weren’t run­ning off and hid­ing. I knew if I could just play the back nine at three un­der par... I fig­ured that would prob­a­bly be a pretty good num­ber. And I did bet­ter than that.”

Wat­ney, who fired a course record equalling 64 in the first round, also fin­ished strongly with birdies at his last two holes to make up for a dou­ble bo­gey at the fourth.

“What­ever the lead is at, that’s not go­ing to win the golf tour­na­ment so I need to go out and keep play­ing well and keep mak­ing birdies to have any shot,” the 28-year-old Cal­i­for­nian said.

Mick­el­son, the win­ner here two years ago, chipped-in twice in a round which also got bet­ter to­wards the end, with birdies at three of his last four holes.

“I’m pleased with where I put my­self af­ter two rounds,” the left­hander added. “There’s a lot of guys there and I’ll need to play very well on the week­end, but I’m in a good po­si­tion.”

An­thony Kim hit a huge five wood on his way to eagling the 18th for a 69, which left him alone in sixth place on eigh­tun­der as Amer­i­cans dom­i­nated the leader­board.

South African Ernie Els hit a hole-in-one at the par three sixth hole but a cou­ple of dou­ble-bo­geys un­did his good work and he reg­is­tered a 71 for a share of 23rd on three-un­der.

Kim is likely to stand by his de­ci­sion to skip the Euro­pean Tour’s lu­cra­tive sea­son fi­nale in Dubai, even if he wins.

“If I have that op­por­tu­nity, I may re­con­sider, but most likely I’m not go­ing to play,” Kim told re­porters. The $1.2 mil­lion first prize in Shang­hai would make Kim al­most cer­tain to be one of the 15 play­ing for a bonus pot of $7.5 mil­lion at the Dubai World Cham­pi­onship as well as any earn­ings from the $7.5 mil­lion tour­na­ment.

“I think it’s easy to get lost in it and just chas­ing money around and that’s not re­ally what I want to do. I think I did that a lit­tle bit last year and I’m not go­ing to do that any­more. It hurt my golf game.” – Reuters

AP

ON FIRE: Nick Wat­ney... record equalling first round.

REUTERS

PUT­TER STUT­TER: Tiger Woods was held back by some lack­lus­tre putting.

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