Tiger Woods shot a five-under 65 to vault up the leaderboard at the Quicken Loans National, a tournament he hosts, and in the process equaled his lowest round of the season. He is now five-under for the tournament after he shot an even-par 70 on Thursday.
On Friday, Woods birdied the first hole and was able to build on momentum from there. With a new TaylorMade mallet putter in hand, Woods rolled in multiple putts from outside 15 feet in what was easily his best putting performance in the last four tournaments. After he finished Thursday's round with a -1.2 strokes gained putting, Tiger improved by nearly three strokes in that statistic, as he picked up 2.1 strokes on the field on the greens Friday.
The highlight of the day, however, came at the 18th, his ninth hole of the day, and he didn't need the putter at all. After his approach missed short and right of the green, Woods hit a perfect pitch that found the center of the hole and sent the hefty galleries into a frenzy.
Woods' iron play has been a consistent strength in this latest comeback, and thus his rounds have largely dependent on his ability to find fairways and hole putts. He did both at TPC Potomac on Friday, hitting 10 of 14 fairways—including one that finished in the first cut of rough just off the short stuff—10 of 13 greens and needing just 27 putts despite three-putting the 17th for a bogey.
Woods was in a tie for 11th and just four shot off the lead when he finished his round. He has won this tournament twice, but both instances happened when it was played at Congressional Country Club.
This is likely the last edition of the Quicken Loans National in the D.C. area, as Quicken Loans declined to extend its sponsorship agreement and this spot has been filled on the PGA Tour's revamped schedule for the 2018-19 season.
Below is a hole-by-hole recap of Woods' second round.
Hole 9, par 3 - Par, -5 for day, -5 for tournament, final score: 65
Another good up-and-in at 9, where his tee shot found a bunker once again. From there, he hit a nice spinner to about five feet and sunk the putt.
That's a five-under 65 for Tiger, who equals his low round of the season. He shot the same 65, though it was seven-under rather than five, at the Players Championship in May.
Hole 8, par 4 - Par, -5 for day, -5 for tournament
In every round, even the very best ones, you're going to have a few moments where you have to save par to keep the momentum going. That's exactly what Tiger did at 8. After his drive kicked into the primary rough, his approach missed right of the green in a bunker. But he had a good amount of green to work with and was able to get it up-and-in to stay at five under. On to the last.
Hole 7, par 4 - Par, -5 for day, -5 for tournament
Tiger's tee shot peeled a little too far right but was fortunate to find the first cut. Still, he was penalized for missing the fairway: he thought his wedge approach would catch a flier lie, but it did not. He left the approach well short and two putted for par.
Hole 6, par 4 - Par, -5 for day, -5 for tournament
Another routine par on the difficult 6th, the hole Tiger double-bogeyed yesterday. He hit another driver right down the pipe—apart from the flare on 18, he's been really solid with that club—then hit an approach to the fat part of the green, 30 feet from the hole. His ball had a nice end-over-end roll but didn't take as much break as he thought, then he knocked in a three footer for par. Three holes left–if he can play them in one-under, it'll be his lowest round since the comeback.
Hole 5, par 4 - Birdie, -5 for day, -5 for tournament
Okay, this could be a special round. Tiger found the center with a blistered driving iron then hit a sand wedge to two-and-a-half feet. Just completely dialed in. His seventh birdie of the day brings him to five-under for the day, and he's now in a tie for ninth and just three back of the lead.
Hole 4, par 4 - Par, -4 for day, -4 for tournament
Near-miss there. Tiger pumped one down the middle then hit a cut approach from 175 yards to roughly 15 feet below the hole. His birdie effort looked good but took a late turn left and barely missed. Those are the kind of pars you want to make—a good look at birdie, then a stress-free tap in. Bueno.
Hole 3, par 3 - Birdie, -4 for day, -4 for tournament
As DJ Khaled says: Another one.
Woods tee shot safely found the middle of the green, leaving 25 feet straight uphill for birdie. The roll was true, and the ball rammed into the back of the cup, dead-center. He's now made 100 feet of putts already today and just made his sixth birdie in 12 holes. Really good momentum right now for the Big Cat.
Hole 2, par 5 - Birdie, -3 for day, -3 for tournament
Length pays off. Example: Both Leishman and Haas couldn't get to this 606-yard hole in two, but Tiger was able to knock it on the green after a piped drive and a quality three wood that took a nice bounce. That left a 30-ish foot eagle putt that was severely downhill, and Tiger was a bit cautious but judged the speed nicely. A tap-in for his fifth birdie of the day, and he's now three-under for the tournament and all the way up to T-16.
Hole 1, par 4 - Par, -2 for day, -2 for tournament
Tiger smoked a driver 310 yards right down the pipe. From 152 yards, his approach landed near the back of the green then spun back to about 13 feet. His birdie effort gave the hole a good scare before sliding by on the low side, just right of the hole. A tap-in par and he's onto the par-5 second, which is playing over 600 yards for the second straight day.
Hole 18, par 4 - Birdie, -2 for day, -2 for tournament
Tiger blew his driver way right for the second straight day, but his ball took a nice bounce left and finished in the rough right of the fairway. From 190, he lashed at it and advanced the ball just short of the green, leaving about a 30 yard pitch. He hit a high spinner that looked good the hole way, and it rolled in right in the center. Fantastic way to end the opening nine and certainly a momentum booster.
Hole 17, par 3 - Bogey, -1 for day, -1 for tournament
First real hiccup today. This hole has water all along the right side, and Tiger's tee shot warranted attention because it started at the flag and cut. It did find dry land but finished 40 feet from the hole with a ridge in between him and the cup. He ran his first effort six feet by and his par putt slid by on the left side. It's his first three-putt of the tournament, and Woods looked visibly annoyed as he walked off the green.
Hole 16, par 4 - Par, -2 for day, -2 for tournament
Ho-hum par. Drive down the middle with the driving iron, approach to about 25 feet, good birdie effort that slid three feet by, cleaned up the par easily. Onward.
Hole 15, par 4- Birdie, -2 for day, -2 for tournament
About as good as you can play a hole. Tiger piped a driver 338 yards down the left side of the fairway on this 478-yard hole. From 157 yards, he hit an approach right at the pin that finished about five feet short of the flag. The birdie effort was dead center, and he now has three birdies in just six holes and has made nearly 80 feet of putts already.
Tiger spoke yesterday about how he felt he rolled the ball well, and that if he continued doing that, he'd eventually start making some putts. Looks like that's what's happening today.
Hole 14, par 4 - Par, -1 for day, -1 for tournament
The 14th is drivable—Tiger hit a 3-wood just short yesterday and got up-and-down for birdie—and both Leishman and Haas went with driver. But after some debate, Tiger went with 3-wood and hit a borderline pop-up that finished a solid 45 yards short of the green in a bunker. His ball was on the upslope, making a difficult shot even harder, and he came up short with his approach. He once again went with putter from off the fringe and got a bit frisky with the birdie effort, leaving four feet for par. The stroke was a confident one and the ball was dead center.
As an aside, Leishman is three-under for his first five holes and is all the way up to T-2 at six-under.
Hole 13, par 4 - Par, -1 for day, -1 for tournament
Missed opportunity to get some real momentum there. Tiger hit another perfect driving iron then flighted a wedge from 125 yards to just six and a half feet. But the putt was downhill, and Woods appeared to hit a bit of a push. It never had a chance. A tap-in par.
Hole 12, par 3 - Birdie, -1 for day, -1 for tournament
How about that mallet!
After hitting his approach perfectly pin high on this par 3, Woods curled in a 19-foot, right-to-left curler for his second birdie in three holes. He's now made more than 47 feet of putts through just three holes after making 48 feet of putts all day yesterday. And he's now equaled his birdie total from yesterday with his second of the day.
Hole 11, par 4 - Bogey, E for day, E for tournament
Not an ideal way to follow up a birdie, but it could have been much worse.
After missing way right yesterday with the driving iron, Tiger took the same club and hit a perfect cut into the middle of the fairway on 11, which played as the hardest par 4 on the PGA Tour last year. From the middle of the fairway, with the ball slightly above his feet, Tiger tried to hit a cut to access the back-right hole location. He looked to have dug the toe a bit and perhaps caught it a bit heavy, as the approach did not clear the hazard right of the green. With his third shot, he took a mighty lash but only advanced it a few feet, though he did get it out of the weeds. From there, he hit a nice chip to five feet and snuck his bogey effort in on the right side.
It's never good to make a bogey from the middle of the fairway. But all things considered, that could have been much worse. He didn't have the option of taking a drop because his ball never cleared the hazard, so if he didn't get it out on the first lash, that could have been a big number.
Hole 10, par 5 - Birdie, -1 for day, -1 for tournament
After hitting his driving iron into the left hazard yesterday, Tiger went with the same club today but split the fairway this time. He had 270 into this par 5 and went with a hard, hooking 3-iron that finished just short of the putting surface. A really good effort. He was left with 90-ish feet to the hole and, surprisingly, opted to putt it from just off the green (surprising because how well he's been chipping the ball.) Initially, the choice looked to have backfired as he left himself 24 feet for birdie.
But his birdie effort was true all the way and fell right in the middle of the cup. After Thursday, when he only made 48 feet of putts for the entire day, rolling in a 24-footer will give him a jolt of confidence and get the good vibes going with the mallet.
Tiger's going with a purple shirt and black pants today, and he once again has the Taylormade Armdmore 3 mallet putter in the bag. When asked about switching from his iconic Scotty Cameron, Woods said: "Time for it to sit on the bench a little bit. I'm sure it will come back eventually, just one of those things."