Tiger Woods is making an early Friday move at the 2013 Players Championship, adding two birdies in his first four holes to get to 7-under, into a tie for second. Woods started the day on the back nine, which he began with three straight birdies on Thursday after making the turn. The wind was down again on Friday morning at TPC Sawgrass, and Tiger took advantage of the benign conditions and birdie opportunities at the start of his round.
Woods mixed it up off the tee on Thursday, hitting driver, fairway woods and hybrids, and irons to keep the ball in the fairway on a tight Pete Dye layout. At the opening No. 10, he put his ball drive in the middle, setting up an approach shot that he dropped on top of the pin and spun back short of the cup. He cleaned up his birdie putt and to quickly got back the shot he dropped on the finishing hole on Thursday.
Tiger was the only player in the field to birdie all four par-5s in the opening round, but that streak came to an end on No. 11 on Friday. Woods made a disappointing par, and was forced to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker to make the save. He left his second shot short of the green, but then flubbed a flop shot into the bunker just a few feet in front of him. He splashed out and put his putt in the center to move on, avoiding what would have been a disastrous bogey on the gettable par-5.
On his third hole of the day, No. 12, Woods came back into form with his approach from the fairway, putting his ball inside of six feet. All three players in the group (Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker are out with him) put their ball within 10 feet to make birdie on the easy par-4.
With little-to-no wind, Tiger is free to shape his shots from both right-to-left and left-to-right. While he still shot 67 on Thursday, he said his game was off but that he was fortunate to miss everything in the right spot to avoid bogeys and allow for up-and-down birdies on the par-5s. So far on Friday, those approach shots are not missing at all and after Nos. 10 and 12, he hit the perfect iron tee shot into the par-3 13th. Tiger sent his ball into the middle of the green, letting the ball work its way down the slope to the wide open front-left pin location. He was left with a 10-foot birdie putt, but his ball dove down and slid by the cup on the low side to narrowly miss another birdie.
At 7-under, he now heads to No. 14 in a three-way tie for second with Lee Westwood and Kevin Chapell. With leader Roberto Castro not teeing off until the afternoon, it will be surprising if Woods hasn't chased him down, or passed him, by the time the opening-round leader gets to the first tee. Here's a snapshot of the leaderboard around Woods early on Friday morning:
|-9||Roberto Castro||12:46 PM|
|-6||Zach Johnson||01:49 PM|
|-6||Rory McIlroy||01:49 PM|