Albany, Bahamas, December 2023.

Scottie Scheffler showed no signs of having been away from golf since the Ryder Cup, but Tiger Woods showed better touch in the second round of the Hero World Challenge.

Woods improved upon his first round 73 with a 2-under 70 and is now 1-over for 36 holes. He is 10 behind co-leaders Scheffler (69-68) and Jordan Spieth (68-67). Woods sounded a warning, “Unfortunately, I just haven’t finished off my last two rounds the way I would like to and I’ve got two more days to improve.”

Runner-up last two times Scheffler, who has been on the ball literally this season, was 7-under for the day through 17 holes. On the last Scheffler went into the right off with his drive and then hit into the rough again and finally got his third shot to 11 feet for a par and missed it. It was his second dropped shot after a messy bogey on the Par-3 eighth.

Twice winner this season, Scheffler’s 6-under moved him to 9-under, where he was joined by Jordan Spieth, who after his adventurous first round 68, had a squeaky-clean bogey free 67.

The duo was followed by one of the first-round co-leaders, Brian Harman, who turned around his disastrous start of three bogeys in first four holes with a blazing 5-under over last five holes to get to 8-under.

Justin Thomas carded a 5-under 67 despite back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th. He was 7-under and fourth,Tony Finau (71), Matt Fitzpatrick (68) and Collin Morikawa (69) were bunched at 6-under in tied fifth spot.

Two-time defending champion, Viktor Hovland, continued to struggle to a second straight 73 and was tied 16th.

Scores apart, Woods was walking better and showed flashes of his brilliance, too. He found 10 of the 13 and drove over 370 yards on the 15th.

If the first day’s front nine saw decent beginning, the second round saw a very fast start with four great birdies on the first seven holes.

Woods seem to have everything going for him. His walk was better, the driver listened to him better and the wedges and irons were doing his bidding. The putter, too, was hot, but only at times and on other occasions, he missed short ones.

“I cleaned it up a little bit from yesterday,” said Woods. “I didn’t quite have the finish I would like to have. I missed a couple putts coming in and made a couple little mistakes. Overall, it was a better start … better commitment, I kept it going with that today. I just wish I made a couple more putts to keep the round going.”

After drilling his drives and irons to inside five and six feet and gobbling up birdies four times on the front nine, he turned in 4-under, but could not consolidate the gains. He had back-to-back birdies on the first and second and again on the sixth-seventh, but dropped shots on 13th, 15th and 16th took away that gloss. On 17, he birdied with a massive putt from nearly 30 feet. The ball circled the entire cup before dropping in.

From the eighth, five straight pars followed. Those included pars on the par-5 9th and par-5 11th. The mistakes began on the 13th.

He bogeyed 13th and missed for birdie on 14 but with the par-5 15th lurking, there was still a good chance. After a double bogey on Thursday with a wayward drive, Woods split the fairway and then attacked the tucked left pin with 9 iron. He could not get close and then putted off the green with fourth and went back into the greenside bunker from which he had just came down. He was lucky to get away with a bogey. Woods bogeyed 16, birdied on 17 and parred the 18 for a 70.

“I’ve played two tournaments all year. I’m rusty,” said Woods. “This golf course will bring that out of you a little bit. Some of the pin locations … you can run the table here or you can go the other way very quickly.”

Scheffler was happy despite two bogeys, as he commented, “I drove it well, gave myself a lot of chances. Yeah, that’s probably the thing I did best. Then for the most part I kept a clean card. I got a bad break on No. 8, made a bogey, and then got in a weird spot there on 18, but outside of that I played pretty solid.”

Harman had three bogeys in first four holes. A birdie on sixth was negated by a bogey on 10th at which stage he was 3-over for the day. Harman, who showed himself to be a fighter and tenacious, while winning The Open in July, brought those qualities to the fore yet again.

He birdied 11th and then holed a difficult second shot for an eagle on Par-4 from the edge of the bunker with the ball low at his feet.

He celebrated that with two great shots to get to the green on the Par-5 15th. He had a 35-footer for another eagle, and he gave it all, but went past just under four feet, which cleaned up. He maintained that momentum he hit his tee shot to under five feet on Par-3 17th and two more fine shots on 18th, a good drive and a perfect iron shot gave him a birdie chance from under seven feet and he gleefully grabbed it.

Spieth was happy with the day’s work, saying, “Yeah, shot selection. I was really diligent about where I was lined up, the intent on the shot, not trying to squeeze stuff in certain places. I got a couple of balls on the green off the tee on the two drivable holes, which was obviously a bonus, especially on seventh.”

“Yeah, yesterday maybe I had felt a little hesitation off the tee, I just have not played a lot of rounds and having some toes and heels, just not finding the centre of the face. Today I hit a couple good ones early and I just decided to continue to trust and focus.”

Scores after ROUND 2:

135: Scottie Scheffler (69-66), Jordan Spieth (67-68)

136: Brian Harman (67-69)

137: Justin Thomas (70-67)

138: Matt Fitzpatrick (70-68), Collin Morikawa (69-69), Tony Finau (67-71)

139: Sepp Straka (73-67)

140: Cameron Young (69-71) and Jason Day (71-69)

142: Lucas Glover (71-71), Max Homa (69-73)

143: Justin Rose (72-71)

144: Rickie Fowler (74-70)

145: Tiger Woods (75-70)

146: Viktor Hovland (73-73), Keegan Bradley (72-74)

147: Sam Burns (71-76)

149: Wyndham Clark (76-73), Will Zalatoris (81-68)


11:21 am: Wyndham Clark (76-73), Will Zalatoris (81-68)

11:32 am: Keegan Bradley (72-74) and Sam Burns (71-76)

11:43 am: Tiger Woods (75-70) and  Viktor Hovland (73-73);

11:54 am: Justin Rose (72-71) and Rickie Fowler (74-70)

12:05 pm: Lucas Glover (71-71) and Max Homa (69-73)

12:16 pm: Cameron Young (69-71) and Jason Day (71-69)

12:27 pm: Tony Finau (67-71) and Sepp Straka (73-67)

12:38 pm: Matt Fitzpatrick (70-68) and Collin Morikawa (69-69),

12:49 pm: Brian Harman (67-69) and Justin Thomas (70-67)

1:00 pm: Scottie Scheffler (69-66) and Jordan Spieth (67-68)