Tiger Woods tied the course record at Firestone on Friday. The world's No. 1 player was 9 under through 14 holes but fell shy of the magical 59. Here are highlights of his round.
AKRON, Ohio -- It was a special day for Tiger Woods because he finally received some positive affirmation. He has been practicing and telling us he’s playing well, yet his scores haven't reflected those statements.
Since THE PLAYERS Championship, his game has been somewhat pedestrian. There was the tendonitis health issue, but that’s rationalization in a result-driven sport. Woods needed something to show his fans, his colleagues and himself that his game was on the correct path. A 9-under 61 tells us Woods is still the best player in the world.
Par save: Woods hit so many good putts in the second round it’s tough to single out the highlights. He had a 20-foot eagle at the second and was 4 under after three holes. But a par save at No. 6 might have been his most important of the round. He drove left, chipped out and faced a 23-footer for par. He made the putt. Golfers cobble together good rounds with great par saves and that was the springboard that kept Woods' momentum intact.
Green speed: I don’t think it’s coincidental that rain began on the 14th hole and that’s when Woods stopped making birdies. It was just a light sprinkling of rain, maybe closer to a drizzle than a shower, but it was enough to change the speed of the greens. When greens become slower, the break of putts decreases. Woods putt from off the 18th green did not move one inch because the putting surface has slowed with moisture.
Go-no-go: Woods had the number to cover the water and reach the 650-yard 16th hole in two shots. His drive traveled 378 yards, leaving just 270 to the flagstick. The ball was sitting up in the first cut of rough, but the grain of the grass was running away from the green and Woods did not want to take the chance of a flair to the right. He layed it up to 89 yards, but caught a downhill lie and played conservatively to the middle of the green, which resulted in a two-putt par. Woods has played the 16th hole in 1 over this week.
Good breaks: Anytime a player wins a golf tournament or shoots a low number, he receives some fortunate bounces. It happened to Woods in the second round. His drive on the 13th hole was flaired to the right but bounced off the trees and ricocheted into the fairway. On the 14th hole another drive sailed wide to the right and Woods found his ball with a clean lie and unobstructed view of the green. To Woods' credit, he took advantage of the good fortune, making birdie at the 13th and par on No. 14. It’s not enough to just receive a good break, you must cash in the good fortune.
Father knows: Jay Haas did some analyst work this week on the Golf Channel and critiqued his son, noticing Bill had the ball too far forward in his stance and was sliding into the ball instead of turning his hips. Following his second round, Haas headed to the range noting his ball position was a little forward and his hip-turn needed work. Father always knows best.
Close: Rory McIlroy has not gotten much out of his game this week. He hit five fairways in the second round along with seven greens and, yet, seemed happy. He noted his strikes were very solid and his distance was great. McIlroy headed to the practice range with a very optimistic view of his game.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.