Tiger Woods leads in Japan after second round of 64

Rory McIlroy nine strokes off the lead at halfway stage of the Zozo Championship

Tiger Woods has the halfway lead in Japan. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty

Tiger Woods has the halfway lead in Japan. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty

 

Tiger Woods enjoyed himself in almost serene conditions, carding a second straight six-under-par 64 to grab a two-shot second-round lead over Jeff Woodland at the Zozo Championship on Saturday.

On a day when spectators were not allowed on the premises due to what the PGA Tour said were unsafe conditions, Woods quietly went about his business in front in near-silence at Narashino County Club.

With birdies at the final two holes, he jumped clear of fellow American Woodland, posting a 12-under 128 halfway total in the rain-affected event that will not finish until Monday.

Woodland shot 66 to stake out second place at 10-under, while Keegan Bradley and local favourite Hideki Matsuyama were two shots further back in a tie for third.

“I felt pretty good about it today,” said Woods. “I hit the ball a little bit better than I did yesterday, which is nice, and I had the speed of the greens again.

“The greens are soft, they’re a little bit slower today and we could give it a little bit extra rap on it. I left a lot of my approach shots below the hole and I was able to be pretty aggressive.”

Even though players were allowed preferred lies, the course dried remarkably well after being deluged with six inches (150 mm) of rain on Friday. It was the fear of spectators slipping and sliding in mud that prompted the unusual fan ban.

The third round and the first part of the final round are scheduled for Sunday, with the remainder of the final round set for Monday morning.

Spectators will be allowed back in on Sunday and most of the sellout crowd of nearly 20,000 will no doubt have eyes for Woods, playing in Japan for the first time since 2006.

Woods, 43, is also playing his first event since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee two months ago.

Though the course was closed, several hundred people still gathered around the first tee to watch him, and a couple of hundred walked every hole, mostly TV camera crews, still photographers, golf writers and tournament officials.

The 15-time major champion started well with a six-foot birdie at the first hole and apart from a pulled iron shot that led to a bogey at the second did not miss a beat.

Woods certainly noticed the unusual atmosphere, just the second time in his pro career he has played sans spectators he said.

“I made a couple putts today and I went to put my hand up and I’m like, don’t put your hand up, there’s no one clapping, so just move on about your business and just go ahead and keep trying to plug my way up the board, and I was able to do that,” he said.

Collated Collated second round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour The Zozo Championship, Accordia Golf Narashino CC, Chiba, Japan (USA unless stated, par 70):

128 Tiger Woods 64 64

130 Gary Woodland 64 66

132 Keegan Bradley 69 63, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 65 67

133 Daniel Berger 67 66, Corey Conners (Can) 69 64

134 Matthew Wolff 69 65, Xander Schauffele 68 66

135 Danny Lee (Nzl) 70 65, Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 69 66, JT Poston 70 65, Ryan Palmer 67 68, Collin Morikawa 71 64, Billy Horschel 68 67, Sungjae Im (Kor) 71 64, Charles Howell III 70 65

136 Adam Schenk 69 67, Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) 68 68, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 68 68, Sung Kang (Kor) 67 69

137 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 72 65, Keith Mitchell 69 68

138 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 69 69, Tomoharu Otsuki (Jpn) 70 68, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 70 68, Paul Casey (Eng) 69 69, Bubba Watson 69 69, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 69 69

139 Jason Day (Aus) 73 66, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 71 68, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 68 71, Justin Thomas 70 69, Max Homa 71 68, Yosuke Asaji (Jpn) 72 67, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 73 66, Troy Merritt 71 68

140 Andrew Putnam 68 72, Adam Scott (Aus) 73 67, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 73 67, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 75 65, Adam Hadwin (Can) 71 69, Chan Kim 71 69, Shane Lowry (Irl) 71 69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 71 69, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 71 69, Patrick Reed 72 68

141 Sang-hyun Park (Kor) 71 70, Lucas Glover 72 69, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 74 67, Kevin Na 71 70, Tony Finau 72 69, Seung-su Han 72 69, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 70 71, Adam Long 71 70, Kevin Tway 69 72, Ryan Moore 72 69

142 Wyndham Clark 74 68, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 74 68, Pat Perez 72 70, Harold Varner III 72 70, Ian Poulter (Eng) 71 71

143 Vaughn Taylor 70 73, Shugo Imahira (Jpn) 74 69, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 68 75, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 76 67

144 Jason Kokrak 74 70, Jinichiro Kozuma (Jpn) 75 69

145 Kevin Kisner 75 70, Jordan Spieth 74 71

146 Marc Leishman (Aus) 76 70, Scott Piercy 78 68, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 75 71

147 Mikumu Horikawa (Jpn) 72 75, Kevin Streelman 78 69, Chez Reavie 77 70

148 Joel Dahmen 72 76

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