Tiger Woods fires birdie-filled 65 to move into contention at QL National

POTOMAC, MD - JUNE 29: Tiger Woods and Marc Leishman of Australia speak on the 18th green during the second round of the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac on June 29, 2018 in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Rob Carr/Getty Images

Tiger Woods fires birdie-filled 65 to move into contention at QL National

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods fires birdie-filled 65 to move into contention at QL National

The host could be in position to win again.

Tiger Woods turned things around on Friday at the Quicken Loans National, making seven birdies on his way to a 5-under 65 that saw him jump 37 spots to a tie for 11th at 5 under overall. He began the day seven back but is currently within four at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

For most of the first round, the 42-year-old appeared out of sorts at the event he won in 2009 and 2012. But he got things going on the back nine Thursday, and then furthered that mojo in Round 2.

The day had a mysterious start, as Woods hit two excellent shots to find himself just in front of the par-5 10th (his opening hole) in two and then left his 100-plus-foot putt from there almost 25 feet short.

He then shook that off and drained the slick right-to-left remainder for an opening birdie.

Woods was off and running.

Except, at the very next hole he inexplicably lost his approach from the fairway well to the right – leaving his ball in a marsh hazard. From there, all Woods could do was hack the ball feet forward into the rough. He chipped up to 5 feet and barely got the putt to drop on the right side for a bogey.

That birdie-bogey start would be indicative of much of his opening nine. Woods buried a curling 19-footer for birdie at the next and put himself 2 under for the round and tournament when he made a textbook birdie at the par-4 15th (ending it with a 16-foot putt).

But then he three-putted for bogey at the par-3 17th.

The turning point would be the par-4 18th.

Woods lost his driver there right into a difficult lie in the rough. It appeared he would have to pull off something special just to make par. He hacked out just in front of the green, though, and left himself a doable 27-yard pitch from the fairway over a knob to a back flag.

He took advantage by executing a brilliant pitch that ended in the bottom of the cup for a momentous birdie.

With that, Woods was out in 2-under 33 and feeling good heading into the back nine.

That good vibes proved huge, as Woods found the green in two at the 606-yard par-5 second and simply two-putted for another birdie. The putter then pitched in again when Woods holed a 26-footer at the par-3 third for his sixth birdie of the round.

He was 4 under overall and suddenly within four of the lead. And he kept putting the pedal down.

Woods actually missed a 14-footer for birdie at the next but came back and stuffed a wedge inside 3 feet at the par-4 fifth to move to 5 under and within three. It was his SEVENTH birdie of the round.

His final four holes were more of a grind, with Woods having to get up and down from bunkers at his final two holes to stave off late bogeys. He did just that by rolling in a pair of par putts around 5 feet.

Everything seemed to be working for Woods on Friday. He found 10 of 14 fairways, as his work off the tee was often pristine with only minor blemishes here and there. He hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and his approach play was exemplary for the most part.

Aside from his head-scratcher at the 11th, there were no bad misses. He hit a number of approaches within good birdie range and he executed excellent conservative lines on pins it would’ve been a danger to attack.

His work around the greens remains his rock. But the putter was probably the biggest story Friday.

There’s been much hoopla over Woods’ switch this week to a TaylorMade mallet-style putter from the trusty Scotty Cameron Newport 2 he’s used during his comeback and in 13 of his 14 major titles.

The putter appeared to be cold on Thursday, but Woods expressed confidence in its performance in Round 1. It looked like he knew what he was talking about, as Woods drained birdie putts of 26, 24, 19 and 16 feet on Friday and had a strokes gained: putting valuation near +2.000 on the round.

This combination in Round 2 gave him the day he needed to enter the weekend in contention after he was 2 over through 11 holes on Thursday.

An exciting weekend awaits for Tiger fans as Woods looks to win his 80th PGA Tour title and first in five years.

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