Tiger Woods battles Bear Trap to stay in contention

Rory McIlroy also made the cut but not without trouble on a hugely difficult day

Tiger Woods looks onto the second green during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Tiger Woods looks onto the second green during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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They call the Bear Trap at PGA National in Florida the most demanding stretch of holes on the PGA Tour. The fearsome triangle of the Par 3 15th, Par 4 16th and Par 3 17th have ruined many a round at the Honda Classic and, on Friday, it was Rory McIlroy who fell victim to the last of the three hole stretch when he wound up with a triple bogey six at the Par 3 17th.

However, he maintained his composure to shoot level par on his back nine and get into the clubhouse with a second consecutive 72 for a four over par total, seven shots behind leaders Luke List, and Jamie Lovemark as the Florida winds caused havoc on day two with just 11 players in the whole field breaking par.

On track to join that contingent was Tiger Woods after he showed more than a few glimpses of his vintage best at a tournament he has never won. That was until he became the latest victim of the round-wrecking group of three holes.

With his iron play looking dialled in on a day when distance control was far from easy, Woods recovered from an early bogey at the second – a result of finding the water with his drive – before picking up birdies at the fourth and ninth.

Five pars in a row had him sitting pretty in the top-10 before his tee shot at the Par 3 15th found the water and he failed to get up and down from the drop zone to save bogey. Like many before him he left the green with a double but the 79-time PGA Tour winner was still just four shots off the lead at one over with three holes to play.

A further dropped shot at the 16th – after a long birdie putt sped 20 feet past – threatened to derail a good round with the fearsome 17th to come. However, Woods still had some magic in the locker as the shadows stretched out across the Florida course. At the 235 yard Par 3 17th he flighted a perfect long iron into the heart of the green and poured the birdie putt right in the centre for a rare two. The roars from the crowd were like those of old and, in the dappled sunlight, you could be mistaken for thinking that he’d never been away.

A par at the last completed a round battling round of 71, a total of one over par and, for the first time since the 2015 Wyndham Championship, the prospect of Tiger Woods in contention at the weekend.

McIlroy plays a drop shot from the 17th hole. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
McIlroy plays a drop shot from the 17th hole. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On Thursday the Bear Trap played a collective 196 over par with just 24 birdies on the three holes while there were 47 double bogeys or worse. In the second round, with conditions even tougher, McIlroy was filed in the latter category after his five-iron tee shot at the Par 3 17th wafted out right and found the water. A drop, a long pitch into the bunker with his fourth and a failure to get up and down meant that the four-time major winner – who is coming off a tied-20th finish at Riviera last week – walked off the green three shots worse than when he started and in real danger of missing the cut.

“I was trying to just play a little bit of a different shot with the five-iron and sort of cut it in there, and I just got way ahead of it,” McIlroy said afterwards.

“The ball started much further right than I wanted to and it just drifted into the water. Again, I tried to play the shot that was the right one. I just didn’t make a good swing.”

At four over par and the cut expected to be around five over, McIlroy could easily have let the round slip but instead he got his head down and ground it out.

While the oft-mentioned putting was still questionable at times – he missed from seven feet for birdie at the Par 5 18th and was disappointed not to birdie the Par 5 third – he made no mistake with the putt for a three after a superb approach at the Par 4 sixth. A bogey followed at the seventh but two closing pars saw him sign for another 72 and keep himself on the fringes of contention going into the weekend with a particularly adventurous closing par on the ninth.

After pushing his approach right he was saved when the ball bounced back off a spectator’s foot, leaving him with an up-and-down for the par.

“That ball would have rolled back into the bunker if some guy’s foot hadn’t been there. I guess the guy, one of the FBI guys that was following our group, he was asking him about the rules and he goes, ‘I’m a cop. I’m law enforcement, so don’t be asking me’!

“That was one of the best fours I’ve made out here the last couple days. I think it’s probably the longest I’ve ever taken to try to hit a golf shot because I didn’t know whether to stand in the bunker or out of the bunker. But I ended up making a good four in the end.”

For Shane Lowry it was nervy finish with a bogey five seeing him into the weekend right on the mark after a round that included a triple bogey at the Par 4 sixth.

Alongside McIlroy, two-time Honda Classic winner Pádraig Harrington finished well outside the cut mark after a second consecutive 76 for a total of 12 over while Seamus Power was only one shot better off after a 74.

Water at the 15th and 17th put paid to Graeme McDowell’s chances with two double bogeys leaving him eight over.

Collated second round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour The Honda Classic, PGA National (Champion), Palm Beach gardens, Florida, United States of America (Irish in bold)

137 Luke List 71 66, Jamie Lovemark 68 69

138 Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 69 69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 68, Russell Henley 68 70, Webb Simpson 66 72

139 Daniel Berger 67 72, Justin Thomas 67 72, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 67 72, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 69 70

140 Adam Schenk 69 71, Morgan Hoffmann 67 73, Scott Piercy 70 70

141 Tiger Woods 70 71, Alex Noren (Swe) 66 75, Jason Dufner 69 72, Gary Woodland 73 68, Stewart Cink 70 71, Kelly Kraft 72 69, Keegan Bradley 69 72, Ben Martin 70 71, Sam Burns 70 71, Dominic Bozzelli 68 73

142 Nick Watney 71 71, Peter Malnati 71 71, Chris Stroud 69 73, Scott Brown 72 70, Hudson Swafford 73 69, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 70 72, Matt Every 73 69, William McGirt 71 71, Jim Furyk 72 70, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 72 70, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tw) 71 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 67 75, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 70 72, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 74 68, Corey Conners (Can) 70 72

143 Martin Flores 73 70, Scott Stallings 73 70, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 71 72, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 71 72, Ben Crane 68 75, Patrick Rodgers 72 71, Camilo Villegas (Col) 76 67, Jonathan Randolph 72 71, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 71 72, Ryan Moore 70 73

144 Vaughn Taylor 73 71, Harold Varner III 70 74, Roberto Diaz (Mex) 71 73, Brian Harman 74 70, Alex Cejka (Ger) 74 70, Rory McIlroy (Nirl) 72 72, Jimmy Walker 76 68, John Huh 71 73, Tyler Duncan 70 74, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 73 71

145 Aaron Wise 76 69, Tom Lovelady 75 70, Derek Fathauer 73 72, Ollie Schniederjans 72 73, Shane Lowry (Ire) 71 74, Tyrone Van Aswegen (Rsa) 72 73, Andrew Novak 75 70, Chris Kirk 71 74, Adam Scott (Aus) 73 72, Lucas Glover 70 75, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 74 71, Martin Piller 69 76, Harris English 71 74, Joel Dahmen 74 71, J.B. Holmes 69 76, Michael Thompson 76 69, Michael Kim 71 74, Troy Merritt 71 74

The following players did not make the half-way cut:

146 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 71 75, Shawn Stefani 74 72, Rob Oppenheim 75 71, Andrew Landry 71 75, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 74 72, Robert Streb 72 74, Patrick Reed 72 74

147 Graeme McDowell (Nirl) 70 77, Ryan Palmer 74 73, Cody Gribble 72 75, Lanto Griffin 74 73, Bronson Burgoon 74 73, Richy Werenski 74 73, Talor Gooch 70 77, Bob Estes 75 72, Ted Potter, Jr. 77 70, Ian Poulter (Eng) 74 73, Blayne Barber 74 73, Brandt Snedeker 74 73, Rickie Fowler 71 76

148 Retief Goosen (Rsa) 74 74, Fabian Gomez (Arg) 75 73, Charles Howell III 74 74, Peter Uihlein 73 75, Chad Campbell 71 77, Sean O’Hair 74 74, T.J Vogel 75 73, Billy Horschel 74 74, Brice Garnett 77 71

149 Robert Garrigus 75 74, Brian Gay 73 76, Sam Saunders 75 74, David Lingmerth (Swe) 75 74, Denny McCarthy 76 73, J.J. Henry 75 74, Grayson Murray 72 77, Wesley Bryan 75 74, Ryan Blaum 74 75, Ryan Armour 75 74, Keith Mitchell 71 78, Russell Knox (Sco) 73 76, Kevin Kisner 79 70, Cameron Tringale 77 72

150 Billy Hurley III 74 76, Kevin Tway 73 77, Luke Donald (Eng) 76 74, J.J. Spaun 75 75, Jon Curran 75 75

151 Andrew Putnam 74 77, Nate Lashley 69 82, Seamus Power (Ire) 77 74

152 Patton Kizzire 74 78, Chesson Hadley 74 78, Pádraig Harrington (Ire) 76 76

153 Brian Stuard 76 77, Tom Hoge 76 77

154 Jhared Hack 75 79

155 Stephan Jaeger (Ger) 79 76, Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 75 80, Benjamin Silverman (Can) 78 77

156 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 75 81

157 Ethan Tracy 76 81, Sung Kang (Kor) 74 83, Andrew Filbert 79 78

163 Smylie Kaufman 83 80

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