Playing alongside Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, Tiger Woods once again ascended above his competition on Friday and will take a solid lead heading into the weekend at the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship.
The world's second-ranked golfer carded a seven-under score of 65 in the second round, dominating the TPC Blue Monster in Miami. Woods recorded eight birdies against just one bogey to bring him to an overall score of 13-under, two strokes ahead of second-place Graeme McDowell and three strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson.
Not only has Woods' performance put him head and shoulders above the competition, but it also set a personal record. His 17 red scores through the first two rounds broke his previous best of 16, according to Justin Ray of ESPN:
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
FROM @EliasSports - Tiger Woods most career par-breakers (birdies/eagles) in @PGATOUR career through 36 holes is 16 - he has 16 now3/8/2013, 9:48:04 PM
After a frustrating outing at last week's Honda Classic, Woods has looked in rare form down in South Florida. He's continued to strike the ball well—something he did for the most part in Palm Beach Gardens—and stayed pretty strong with the short stick.
That said, Woods’ round kicked off with shades of his Friday struggles a week ago. He sent his opening shot on the par-5 first hole into a fairway bunker, forcing a layup shot, and then missed the green on his third stroke. He then scrambled for par, chipping the ball close to the cup and knocking down a gimme putt for a critical save.
Approaches continued to prove frustrating on the second hole. After finding the fairway with a solid drive, Woods’ second shot went a little haywire, leaving a lengthy birdie try that he narrowly missed. Woods tapped in for par, carded an even number on the third, and it started to look like he could lose his grip on the leaderboard.
Momentum began shifting in a big way on the fourth hole. Finally getting his best approach of the day thus far, Woods hit a beautiful tee shot to within four feet on No. 4, a difficult par 3 that has led many top players astray this week. Woods followed it up with another birdie on the fifth—including a narrow miss for eagle on the approach—and made his way to No. 6 back firmly in command of his game.
You could say those back-to-back birdies got the ball rolling, but that would be a massive understatement. Those birdies essentially got a boulder tumbling down Everest, and the remainder of the field was forced to watch in awe as vintage Tiger came out to roar.
A par on No. 6 calmed things down a bit, but Woods was right back to carding red scores by the next hole. He once again went back-to-back on No. 7 and No. 8 to take the turn at four-under for the day and 10-under for the tournament.
The birdie bonanza wasn't anywhere close to being stopped on the back nine. He drilled two under-par numbers to up his score to minus-12 for a three-shot lead over his competitors. After his birdie on No. 11, the PGA Tour’s official Twitter feed noted just how comfortable Woods is at Doral:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Think Tiger Woods likes Doral? 6 wins, 11 career top-10s here. Today he's 6-under in 11 holes, 10/11 GIR, lead by 3 (-12). #bornforthis3/8/2013, 9:05:02 PM
The following hole saw a rare par from Woods, but he got right back in the saddle on No. 13. Showing the command he had all day on par 3's, Woods hit a solid approach to within about 15 feet and knocked down yet another birdie putt. That gave him seven birdies in a 10-hole span.
His only blemish came on No. 14. Wildly inaccurate with just about every shot he took on the 460-yard par 4, Woods sprayed five shots to come away with a bogey. The momentum calmed down a bit after that point, as Woods played the remaining holes 1-under to recoup his lost shot and take a two-stroke lead into the weekend.
Overall, "pleased" has to be an understatement for his round. Playing with the world’s top-ranked golfer, Woods looked far and away like the more polished player at this point in the season. If he can carry this momentum into the weekend, there’s no telling what he’ll be able to do in the coming months.
|1||Tiger Woods ||-13|
|T5 ||Freddie Jacobson||-9|
Full leaderboard available via PGATour.com.