A last-hole bogey failed to take the gloss off a superb performance from Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship in Florida as the former world No 1 surged to the top of the leaderboard for the first time since August 2015.
He added a second-round 68 to his opening 70 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and ended up in a share of the clubhouse lead with Brandt Snedeker and England’s Paul Casey.
The event is just Woods’ fourth on the PGA Tour since undergoing spinal fusion surgery – his fourth back operation in three years – last April.
“I’m up there,” Woods told PGA Tour Live. “I don’t think this will be leading [at the end of the day] but at least I’m there with a chance going into the weekend.
“Today was a good day. It was cold early, then the wind started blowing a little bit – it was inconsistent and tough to get a bead on. Did a lot of guessing and guessed pretty good, also got fooled a few times.
“I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these little subtle tweaks. I’ve done that from tournament to tournament, I just need to get a little bit more tournament time in.
“I’m starting to get a better feel for it, I’m finding the rhythm of the rounds, I’m hitting shots, I don’t have a problem posting scores. I’m able to play more feel golf.”
Playing partners Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson, the last two Open champions, were set to miss the cut after finishing five and six over respectively.
On the European Tour, India’s Shubhankar Sharma stormed into contention for a remarkable third win in nine events after firing a course-record 64 in the second round of the Hero Indian Open.
Sharma currently tops the European Tour’s Race to Dubai after victories in the Joburg Open and Maybank Championship and finished ninth in the WGC-Mexico Championship on Sunday after leading by two shots heading into the final round.
The 21-year-old looked to be heading for an early exit after starting his first round from the 10th and covering the back nine in 41. However, Sharma came home in 32 to finish one over par and carried on where he left off on Friday with nine birdies and a solitary bogey, including an 11-shot improvement on the back nine.
At seven under par Sharma trails Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo by four shots after Grillo added a 68 to his opening 65 at DLF Golf and Country Club.