Tiger Woods matched his lowest ever score on the PGA Tour with a sizzling nine-under-par 61 in the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but said he had produced several rounds of greater quality.
“Top ten rounds? I don’t know about that,” the American world No.1 said after charging a staggering seven shots ahead of the elite field in the second round at Firestone Country Club. “It’s up there; how about that? Certainly it’s up there, but I don’t know about top ten.”
Woods, who equalled the course record at Firestone which he had previously tied in the second round in 2000, cited his four rounds in the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach and three more at the 1997 Masters, where he clinched his first major title.
“So we’re at seven [better rounds] right there,” the 14-times major champion beamed broadly. “I felt I was in total control of my game today.
“Obviously things like that don’t happen every day, and it’s fun when it all comes together and I was able to take advantage of it, especially on a golf course like this.
“And the fact that I was able to shoot what I shot today, I’m very proud of that,” added Woods, who carded his fourth career round of 61 on the PGA Tour.
For a while on a damp afternoon at Firestone where huge galleries watched his every move, a magical 59 seemed to be on the cards as Woods got to nine under after 13 holes before running out of steam.
Though he had been bidding to become only the sixth player to dip below 60 on the PGA Tour, five men having previously fired 59s, he was not overly impressed by that target.
“Well, the thing is I’ve shot 59 before,” he said, referring to a 1997 practice match he had with his good friend and one-time mentor Mark O’Meara on the Isleworth course in Florida.
“To do that at the time at my [home] course, you had to be 13 deep [under par] to do it. I was only nine today at that point.”
Woods then related an amusing tale about how much had been riding on that friendly match with O’Meara, a twice former major champion, and what occurred the following day.
“He lost a boatload [of money],” Woods smiled as the interview room erupted in laughter. “And then the very next day there was an even better story.
“I was five-under through nine [holes], and then parred 10 and made a hole in one at 11. He just drove his cart home. He didn’t say a word to me.”
Asked whether he went to play the last seven holes on his own, Woods replied with his trademark flashing smile: “No, I didn’t. I came in, as well.
“He didn’t talk to me for a day. Texted him; nothing. Called him; nothing.”
n Argentine Andres Romero fired a six-under 66 to take a wafer-thin one-point lead over American Gary Woodland after two rounds of the Reno-Tahoe Open, in the PGA Tour’s only event using the Stableford scoring system.
Romero, without a PGA Tour win in five years, mixed nine birdies with a single bogey and a double-bogey on Reno’s Montreux Golf and Country Club layout for a midway total of 22 points.
Under the modified Stableford scoring system, points are awarded on each hole for being under-par, with birdies earning a player two points and eagles five.
A bogey costs a player one point, double bogeys and worse three points. No points are won or lost with par.
Woodland began the day one point back of first round leader Josh Teater and ended the day in the same position returning a two-under 70 – good enough for seven points and a two-day total of 21.
Sitting three off the pace on 19 points are South Korea’s Charlie Wi and Australians Stuart Appleby and Rod Pampling.
Wi returned a seven-under 65 that featured five birdies and an eagle at the par five 13th. Appleby signed off with a 67, while Pampling made the biggest move of the day with an eight-under 64 that included nine birdies and a single bogey and added up to a second round score of 17.
American Shaun Micheel, who returns to Oak Hill Country Club next week where he picked up his one and only PGA Tour victory winning the 2003 PGA championship, will get a couple of extra days’ practice after missing the cut set at six points.
Micheel, who has played in just four PGA Tour events this year, missing the cut in all four, had rounds of 73 and 72 and four points.
Northern Irishman Padraig Harrington, a three-time major winner including the 2008 PGA Championship, Canadian Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion and American Todd Hamilton, the 2004 Open winner were among the big names to make the weekend.