Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Tiger Woods battles to sub-par start at Valspar Championship

FacebookPinterestMike Ehrmann  Getty Images Woods hopes to show further improvement in his game this week at the Valspar Championship FacebookPinterestMike Ehrmann Getty Images Woods hopes to show further improvement in his game this week at the Valspar Championship
Rita Gibson | 11 March, 2018, 13:49

Healthy of body and mind again after a miserable and long road back, he sits at 8 under par, tied with tour veterans Justin Rose (66) and Brandt Snedeker (67), one shot behind Canadian rookie and 36-hole leader Corey Conners (68).

4½ years after the most recent of his 79 PGA Tour victories, Tiger Woods is poised to add to that already stunning total after moving within one of the lead through 54 holes of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor near Tampa on Florida's west coast.

Woods got within two shots of the lead by ripping a long iron from the top collar of a bunker on the par-5 11th and using the slope to chip close for a tap-in birdie.

A third birdie followed at the downhill par-4 10th hole before dropping a shot at par-3 14th after an errant 30-yard left tee shot but Woods won back the shot at the next in two-putting from some 48-feet on the front of the green at the par-5 14th.

Snedeker, coming off a sternum injury that knocked him out of golf for the second half of past year, was equally impressive as the guy in his group everyone came to see.

It gave Tiger Woods a preview of what to expect in the afternoon.

Woods ended Friday in a five-way tie for second, two strokes behind Conners.

Tiger would play the final eight holes in even-par, making one bogey and one birdie in what was another tidy round.

"Seeing Phil win I think was really cool for Tiger to recognise, "I've got all this time to be able to still get to that high level"," Spieth said. “I was kind of getting a little frustrated, seeing the scores were decent.

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"I don't want to get carried away from one good tournament, but you could see signs of him playing well and hitting it better, so, no, I'm not surprised". In the final round, Weir unfortunately shot 80 and tied for 10th, while Woods battled Sergio Garcia of Spain down the stretch and beat Garcia by a stroke even though Garcia made a magical shot around a tree.

After scrambling for a par four, Woods then made birdie at the penultimate hole before a closing par left him in a share of eighth place with a handful of golfers still on the course. It all started there for Woods, who clearly feels better than he has in years.

"I'll feel probably more nervous on the first tee tomorrow than I do on the first tee normally, just given the setting", Spieth said.

"That was sweet", Woods said. I hit a lot of good iron shots today, and I had some good speed on the putts.

"So, there's a lot of guys up there, so, you know, myself included".

For Lightning wing Ryan Callahan, a father of three, every child he meets through his pediatric cancer foundation hits home."It's what touches us, me and my wife", Callahan said.

The fact that Conners, who is 608th in the world, is leading a PGA Tour event, is phenomenal.

“This ignited it for me, ” Rose said upon watching a replay of his eagle.

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