Woods finds his range late
Watney sets sizzling pace in Shanghai... but it’s not enough
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
ON FIRE: Nick Watney... record equalling first round.
PUTTER STUTTER: Tiger Woods was held back by some lacklustre putting.