Tiger Woods charges up leaderboard, and British Open gets interesting

Jordan Spieth at The Open

Jordan Spieth at The Open

Tiger Woods shot an even-par 71 for the second straight day.

Better yet, he didn't hurt anyone in the gallery.

Starting the day at even par through the first two rounds of the tournament, Woods made his first birdie of the day at the fourth hole.

"So I think the fire has been taken a little bit out of the fairways and the greens as well, but the greens have been sort of receptive all week".

He was at least six shots behind Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, who took double bogey on the 18th hole, with just under half the field still on the course.

After pars at 12 and 13, Woods hit a solid second shot into the par-five 14th. It wasn't enough to turn the grass from brown to green, just enough to be a nuisance playing in rain gear, with towels hanging from the inside of umbrellas to stay dry and putting surfaces that were slightly slower.

"I kept moving them back", he said.

The shot came out hot and right at them. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

"I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left", explained Woods. "It grabbed the shaft and smothered it", he said. I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 (under) today.

Woods stirred this remote Scottish town on a balmy afternoon, his name going to the top of the competitors in the 147th Open when he two-putted the 14th green for a birdie.

Woods answered with a pair of birdies, and it was give-and-take the rest of the way. His eagle putt slid just by to the right, and he tapped in for a straightforward birdie, his sixth of the day. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par.

And on the final hole, he hit an approach he judged perfectly to about 10 feet pin-high.

"It would be, as you said, better on Sunday, " said Woods, whose 5-under-par 66 was his first score in the 60s at The Open in 11 years. "Today's was one of the better rounds I've played, I had control of my ball, which is not easy to do on a links course".

He was six shots behind when he finished and figured the margin would be a little wider, which it was. "Even if you are off line you can still play from the rough and that is what I was able to do today".

Typical of his first full season since 2015 because of back surgeries, the challenge is more the number of players in front of him than the deficit he faces.

He won't hold the lead or co-lead going into the final round, but he'll have a late Sunday tee time at a major championship, which is not a sentence I envisioned typing this time a year ago.

Woods made life easier on himself with a stunning approach to the 10th to set up a tap-in birdie before launching a thumping drive on the 11th which finished just a few feet left of the green, from where the 14-time major victor easily two-putted from long range for his fifth birdie of the day. Woods had a 9-iron.

That wasn't amusing, but one of Woods' playing partners certainly was. "I really, really did".

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