June 29, 2012
BETHESDA, Md. – Despite rising temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees at Congressional, Tiger Woods shot his way into contention Friday, firing a 3-under 68 that left him five shots back of the leader in his second round at the AT &T National.
A day after shooting a 1-over 72 Thursday, Woods improved his position, collecting two birdies in the final five holes and earning an eagle on the 16th hole after sinking a 48-foot putt that triggered a thunderous roar from the crowd that could be heard throughout the course. He is now tied with four other golfers at 2-under and trails leader Hunter Mahan who is at 7-under after shooting a 6-under 65 Friday.
After the round, Woods, 36, credited his ability to play in the extreme heat, citing past tournaments in hot climates where he has played well and referencing the fact that he trains himself for harsh conditions.
“I’ve played some good tournaments over the years in Malaysia and other places where it’s hot and certainly fitness—running all those miles and lifting all those weights—it comes into play on days like this and consecutive days like this,” said Woods. “I live in Florida and it’s not quite this hot there but it’s definitely more humid than this every day. “
Woods began his round on the back 10, converting six straight pars before burying the eagle on the par-five 16th.
“That was actually a tricky putt because it was a double-breaking putt up that hill,” said Woods. “It’s hard left and then just want to feed back a couple of balls to the right, and I was waiting for it to feed back because it was hanging, hanging, hanging, and then it just fell right in.”
A bogey three holes later humbled Woods after he placed a fairway metal tee shot into the rough. Unlike holes 14 and 15 where he was able to recover masterfully from similar wayward tee shots to earn par, Woods had to settle for bogey.
Woods then birdied holes five and eight to give the 14-time major champion much needed momentum heading into the weekend.
Three other golfers: Brendon de Jonge, Jimmy Walker and Robert Garrigus, are all two shots back of Mahan who began his day with a birdie on one and complimented his quick start with a birdie on hole four and back-to-back birdies on holes eight and nine. Six straight pars to begin the back nine followed by a birdie on 16 and 18 allowed the 30-year-old to maintain the outright lead.
“If it (weather) stays like this, I don’t see the lead going anywhere,” said Woods. “But it was good today. I think the tour staff did a great job of moving some of the tees up, and we had corner pins or front pins.
“Today I think I got more out of my round than I did yesterday,” added Woods. “On a golf course like this, you’re not going to hit it perfect all day. It’s just too difficult. I had to make some saves, and I made two key saves there at 14 and 15.”