Tiger Woods moved up the leaderboard Friday afternoon without hitting a shot.
He finished his morning round at even par, but the course played so hard that his total score of two under gradually knocked off player after player, leaving him in the top five while the second half of the field was still on the course. He was not the only one. Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson, who also played early, are tied with Woods. With the way things were going, the three of them may have the lead by the end of the day.
The wind came from a different direction, proving problematic for Round 1 contenders Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth. It benefited Woods.
“We've had quite a bit of moisture on the greens overnight. We actually made a couple of ball marks early,” Woods said. “Our last five holes, it got awfully quick.”
The greens remained faster than normal for the Open Championship. For the morning groups, they were slower than in Round 1, but, strangely, they still had run out.
Lee Westwood, who moved up 20-plus places with a solid second-round 68, agreed.
“It was a test, a different kind of test yesterday. You come out in the morning and you expect that you have slightly bad scoring conditions, and they were, the greens were slightly softer,” he said. “They start to firm up pretty quickly. I was pleased to be 6-under through 12. I was playing some great stuff. And it was just getting harder as the holes progressed, tougher to score, tougher to get it close.”
Henrik Stenson said, “This is going to be a difficult one, if the wind continues to come out of the east, I think what the forecast is for tomorrow, and maybe a little bit cooler, obviously if it's a little cooler, a little more humidity in the air.” He added that he was happy with his patience and mental balance the first two rounds.
The quirks of links golf and the wind continued to affect distances.
“Today I hit a sand wedge about 180 on one of the holes out there,” Woods explained.
“It's playing so short that ( number) one downwind, it's 450 yards. I hit 5-iron off the tee and was left with a gap wedge,” Stenson said. On the 17th, he compared the first two rounds. “I hit 3-wood, 6-iron yesterday on that one. Today I had two good 3-woods just short on the front edge, and managed to two-putt from 90 feet.”
Mickelson hit 9-iron on 13 in the first round and 4-iron in the second round.
Woods had par saves on the back nine at 10, 13 and 15.
“The 10th hole, that putt's tough,” he said. “It was uphill, and it's slow. But it gets past the hole and it goes downhill and downwind. But it was a nice putt to make there. Thirteen, as far as past that putt would have gone yesterday if it hadn't gone in, is about as far short as I ended up today. And I happened to make it.”
When asked how many drivers he hit, Woods answered eight or 10. When asked where, he quipped, “On the range,” which caused laughter.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the USGA, R&A, PGA Tour or PGA of America.