(REUTERS) – Tiger Woods’ bid for a record-setting 83rd PGA Tour victory will have to wait despite a solid round on Friday (Oct 23), after he finished 12 strokes off the lead and tied for 66th at the halfway point of the Zozo Championship.
The 15-time Major winner equalled Sam Snead’s record 82 wins at Zozo in 2019 after clinching his fifth Masters title to cap a remarkable redemption arc.
But the returning champion’s second-round 66 was not enough to offset his horrid opening round, where he failed to capitalise on the short course’s par-fives.
Fellow American Justin Thomas poured in seven birdies to card his second consecutive round of 65 and take a one-stroke lead.
The world No. 3 hot out of the gate, with four birdies over his first five holes en route to a bogey-free round that left him 14-under 130 heading into the weekend.
Thomas enjoys a one-stroke lead over fellow American Lanto Griffin, who was the co-leader before suffering a bogey on his final hole, and South African Dylan Frittelli. Both men are 13-under 131.
Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler lurk one stroke further back with eight players tied at 11-under including Tony Finau, who is making his first start since testing positive for Covid-19 earlier this month.
Woods carded a four-over par 76 on Thursday, with four bogeys and a double-bogey at the tournament, which does not have a cut and is being played in California instead of Japan due to logistical issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Yesterday was not very good and you’ve got five par fives and basically you can get to every one of them. Playing that many over par yesterday, I played them better today and consequently I shot 66,” he said.
At 44 years old, Woods has long been tipped to break stubborn Snead’s record so long as he can manage the chronic injuries and physical pain that have plagued his career over the past decade.
Snead won the last of his 82 titles in 1965, a decade before Woods was born.
Returning from the PGA Tour’s coronavirus-mandated hiatus, Woods has yet to crack the top 10 of a tournament, most recently missing the cut at the US Open in Mamaroneck.
He said battling the thick rough in New York put stress on his back but said his health was on the upswing.
“I am moving a lot better,” he said.
“Having four weeks off was good, training sessions have been good, so everything’s kind of turned around.” And with the rescheduled Masters tournament kicking off in Augusta Nov. 12, Woods has conceded he will have to tame even more variables to come out on top again.
“This entire year has been different for all of us,” Woods said on Wednesday. “And my run-up to Augusta is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”