Tiger ‘a lot more crisp’ with 66, but still 12 back

Golf

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Just about everything was better for Tiger Woods during the second round of the Zozo Championship on Friday.

But despite shooting 10 strokes better than he did a day earlier at Sherwood Country Club, Woods found himself 12 strokes back of leader Justin Thomas, who shot consecutive 65s on a course yielding numerous low scores.

Woods’ 6-under-par 66 matched his lowest score of 2020 — shot during the final round of the Northern Trust in August — and was his lowest in relation to par.

And it gave him a boost after a frustrating day that saw him play the par-5s at Sherwood in 3 over par.

“I felt I really didn’t swing the club that poorly; I was just a fraction off and I got out of position a couple of times,” Woods said of his opening round. “Didn’t play the par-5s well and it just snowballed into a high number. Was never really able to get any kind of momentum going because I played the par-5s so poorly.

“Today was different. Got off to a much better start and kept rolling.”

Woods made eight birdies, including four of the par-5s. He also missed a 6-footer for birdie at the first hole and three-putted for a bogey at the third. So his round might have even been better.

But with a scoring average for the day of 67.8, it was imperative that he get into the 60s and he accomplished that, although he is well out of contention.

Woods hit 10 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens and needed just 26 putts. It’s the kind of results Woods is looking for as he prepares for next month’s Masters.

“I think just overall I hit the ball so much better,” he said. “Yesterday was not that sharp and today was a lot more sharp and a lot more crisp and clean.”

Woods has looked good throughout the week. He admitted that he feels far better than he did last month at the U.S. Open, where he missed the cut at Winged Foot. And he was swinging the club well during practice, all of which made Thursday’s 76 that much more surprising.

“I am moving a lot better,” he said. “Having four weeks off was good, training sessions have been good, so everything’s kind of turned around.”

Still, Woods’ start is a lot to overcome. After being tied for 75th on Thursday, he is tied for 66th in the 77-player field.

But how he performs this weekend, regardless of his standing in the tournament, will determine what he decides to do as it relates to the Masters, which begins Nov. 12. On Tuesday, Woods said he was considering adding the Vivint Houston Open, despite never having played the week before the Masters in his pro career.

“Well, it’s just I really haven’t played a whole lot,” said Woods, who is playing just his eighth tournament of 2020. “I tried to keep that open as much as I possibly could throughout this comeback in that I really haven’t played a whole lot and maybe I need a few more rounds, but if I play like I did today, a little different story.”

Woods noted that he played back-to-back weeks in August at the Northern Trust and BMW Championship, the only time he did so this year and that would be the case if he were to add the Houston tournament. He said he’s simply keeping “an open mind and shut myself off to the idea.”

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