(Reuters) - Tiger Woods, in his second round of competitive golf since returning from a chronic back injury that kept him out for almost 16 months, shot a flawless seven-under 65 at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Friday.
Fourteen-times major winner Woods, who teed off alone after partner Justin Rose of Britain pulled out of the 18-man tournament with a bad back, was three-under on the front nine and four-under on the homeward stretch.
After a rollercoaster opening round, Woods displayed the type of focus and form that once made him the dominant player of his generation in his second tour of the Albany course.
An eight-shot improvement from his opening 73 lifted Woods into a tie for ninth at six under, six shots back of co-leaders American Dustin Johnson (66) and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (67).
Only defending champion Bubba Watson (63) and Brandt Snedeker (64) had better rounds on another hot, humid day.
“It feels good. As I said yesterday I had it going through eight holes and lost it and finished over par,” Woods told Golf Channel. “Today was different ... I played the middle part of the round better, turned it around and kept the momentum going and I moved myself up the board.”
Woods got off to a bright start rolling in a four-footer for a birdie on his opening hole then reeled off four straight pars before he birdied the sixth for the second consecutive day.
With another birdie at nine Woods entered the turn at three-under, the same as he did in the first round before his game unravelled.
But this time Woods held firm on the back nine picking up birdies at 11, 12, 14 and 15 but it was a 25-foot putt to save par at 16 that was the highlight of the round prompting a mighty fist pump from the former world number one.
“To not drop a shot, to not lose the momentum that was a biggie,” said Woods, host of the unofficial PGA Tour event.
Reporting by Frank Pingue/Steve Keating in Toronto Editing by Tony Jimenez