WINDERMERE, Florida (Reuters) - Tiger Woods shook off the effects of a fever and caught fire on the back nine before a last-hole stumble as he shot a two-under 70 in Friday’s rain-interrupted second round of the Hero World Challenge.
“I wasn’t feeling my best, that’s for sure,” said Woods, who ran a temperature of 102 before the fever broke during the second round of his comeback from back injuries and the challenge of another swing change.
Woods, who struggled to a 77 on Thursday in his first competition since August, sweated through his gray shirt before striking his first shot, paused several times for a hacking cough and sat on a cooler by a tee box for relief during his even-par first nine.
Although still in last place in the 18-player field, the 38-year-old Woods, who shut down his season after the PGA Championship, showed flashes of his old self in a stretch from the 13th at Isleworth.
The American blasted a five-iron second shot on the par-five 13th hole to within six feet and sank the putt for eagle. He followed with a birdie at 14 and another birdie at the 16th to reach four-under for the day.
“I hit a little bit closer today and made a couple of putts,” he said after the round left him at three-over 147, 14 strokes off the lead.
With one hole left for him, a heavy downpour forced an 82-minute delay.
After play resumed, Woods stubbed a short pitch, leaving it in rough left of the green. He chipped on and two-putted from six feet for double bogey.
“The short game is not very good,” acknowledged Woods, who bladed another chip Friday and flubbed three chips on Thursday.
“It’s part of going through the swing changes. A chip shot is a smaller version (of a full shot). It’s not quite ready.”
He had politely declined to shake sponsors’ hands before the first tee because he was afraid he was contagious.
Yet Woods balanced a birdie with a bogey to go even-par on the front after a woeful five-over 41 start on Thursday, and had a flurry of good holes on the back.
But in the end he stood a massive 14 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth, who had one hole to finish on Saturday after darkness halted Friday’s play.
Editing by Gene Cherry