Woods improves by 10 shots in second round, but Thomas leads at Zozo Championship

V Krishnaswamy Thousand Oaks | Updated on October 24, 2020 Published on October 24, 2020

Golfer Tiger Woods   -  REUTERS

Tiger Woods found the kind of form that fetched him five wins at the Sherwood Country Club, but with his first round being 10 shots worse than that, he was 12 shots behind his young friend, Justin Thomas, who fired a second successive 7-under 65, for the halfway lead at the Zozo Championship @ Sherwood.

Defending Woods, who had 76 on the first day added a 6-under 66 which included five birdies on the front nine, is now 2-under for 36 holes, but lies way down on the leader board. Thomas is 14-under for 36 holes.

Meanwhile, Thomas has put himself in prime position for a 14th PGA TOUR title, as he made seven birdies in his opening 12 holes after starting from the 10th but parred home the last six on another day of low scoring in the $8 million showpiece which moved from Japan to the US this year due to Covid-19.

Woods’ biggest improvement came at five of the par 5s at Sherwood, where he was four-under today as opposed to being three-over in his first round. “Played the par 5s better,” said the 44-year-old Woods, who has won five times previously at the venue at the Hero World Challenge.

Not at his best

“I felt like I really didn’t swing the club that poorly (Thursday). I was just a fraction off and I got out of position a couple times and it just snowballed into a high number. Today was a lot more sharp and a lot more crisp and clean,” he said.

Despite being bogey-free, Thomas was disappointed he didn’t take advantage of ideal scoring conditions, especially on the par 5s on his inward nine. He ended Day One ahead of Lanto Griffin and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, who shot matching 65s. Last season’s Rookie of the Year, Scottie Scheffler and World No. 14 Patrick Cantlay also carded 65s to lie two back.

“I played well. I’m not very pleased with the finish. The last six holes I would have liked to at least have got something,” said 27-year-old Thomas who leads on 14-under 130.

After an opening 64, first round leader Sebastian Munoz settled a 70 to drop four back while Richy Werenski set a new course record of 61 which featured a career-first 12 birdies for tied sixth place on 133.

With Sherwood yielding low scores – 56 players shot in the 60s on Friday – Thomas knows he needs to keep his foot on the pedal to savour a first win of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. It will be the 11th occasion he has led or co-led after 36-holes on TOUR where he has gone on to win on six occasions, the last being at The CJ Cup in Korea last October.

“It’s (course) not very difficult. It’s short and the greens are soft right now … that’s good scoring conditions for us,” said Thomas. “Definitely having a 5 iron and a 5 wood out of the fairway into two par 5s and making two pars is not good. I had a great par save there on 8 and I hit a lot of good shots, I just wasn’t near as tight and tidy those last four holes.”

Another PGA Tour win?

Frittelli has made 16 birdies, the most by any player through two rounds, as he chases a second PGA Tour victory. “I’ve been hitting it a lot longer now. But the putter was probably the major thing, made a few crucial putts,” said the South African.

For the second straight week, Griffin fought his way into contention.

Satoshi Kodaira carded a bogey-free 66 to remain as the highest placed amongst the eight Japanese golfers in the elite field. He is tied 14th position on 134 while newly-turned professional Takumi Kanaya, a former world amateur No. 1, shot a 67 for a share of 35th place on 137.

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Published on October 24, 2020
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