Monday, September 24, 2018

Tiger Woods climbs back in contention

NASSAU, Bahamas — Dustin Johnson wasn't even expecting to be in the Bahamas for the Hero World Challenge. He was tied for the lead Friday with Hideki Matsuyama at 12-under 132.

Six shots behind was Tiger Woods, who shot 7-under 65 for 6-under 138 overall.

Woods made two par saves, from next to a bush on the par-3 eighth and with a 25-foot putt on the 16th. He recovered from his opening-round 73 by being practically flawless for a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his second round and tied for ninth.

"Sixteen was big," Woods said. "I wanted to keep that card clean. I don't know what it is about playing and competing, but keeping the card clean — there's something really special that feels really good doing that."

Woods played as a single when partner Justin Rose withdrew because of back problems.

Johnson ran off three straight birdies early in his round, moved into contention with an eagle and closed with a drive down the middle of the water-lined 18th fairway that set up a birdie for 6-under 66.

Matsuyama had the lead to himself until a bogey from the bunker on the par-3 17th, finishing with 67. They were two shots ahead of Louis Oosthuizen and Matt Kuchar, who each shot 67.

Asked if he was more surprised to be tied with Johnson or six shots ahead of Woods, Matsuyama smiled wide.

"I'm happy for both," he said. "Tiger has been my idol since I was little. It's great to have him back. I know he can win again."

Johnson was scheduled to play an exhibition against Rory McIlroy in the Philippines on Tuesday, and he was resigned to sitting this tournament out. But he never withdrew in case the exhibition fell through, and it did.

In only his second tournament since the Ryder Cup, Johnson had most parts of his game in working order.

"I haven't put in much practice, but starting now, I'll be kind of getting ready for next year," Johnson said. "I didn't lose much, I guess."

Defending champion Bubba Watson had the low round of the tournament with 63 that left him three shots behind.

J.B. Holmes, the opening-round leader with 64, had triple bogey on 18 and finished with 73.

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