MIAMI (Reuters) - When he warmed up on the range at Doral on Friday, Tiger Woods did not sense his seven-under 65 was on the horizon but he got into a groove when it mattered to grab the lead midway through the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
The world number two has made 17 birdies over the first two rounds, looked controlled and powerful off the tee, in command with the irons and close to his deadly best with the putter en route to a two-shot lead after two rounds.
“I had to work through it. I didn’t have a very good warm up this morning. Wasn’t feeling very good with my swing, and just had a few keys I had to work through,” Woods told reporters.
“I didn’t do a very good job the first couple holes. Hit terrible golf shots there. But I played them even par.”
The turning point came on the par-three fourth where Woods landed his four-iron shot five feet from the pin and confidently made birdie.
“That was where I need to be, and I kept that all the way through,” he said. “It felt like I finally got into a feeling where I needed to have it.
“As I said, the range, it wasn’t very good. I was sporadic. I’ve been doing it here and there. All I need is one shot and as soon as I feel it on one, I can pretty much carry through and I did that today.”
Woods found nine of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens and needed just 25 putts as he cruised around a course where he won in this tournament in 2007.
But he certainly was not ready declare the long-term work he has been undertaking with swing coach Sean Foley successfully completed.
“No, I still have the same faults, the same little patterns are still there, and that just takes time,” he said.
“I’ve just got to continue to work on what we’re working on and I’m becoming more efficient, which I like. I’m certainly hitting the ball a lot further than I used to. Those are all positive things.”
The top end of the leaderboard features some of the biggest names in golf with Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker, who this week helped Woods with his putting, in a share of third place just three strokes behind the lead.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell is the closest to Woods, two shots behind, while Masters champion Bubba Watson is four strokes off the pace.
With the course due to be demolished on Monday ahead of a major rework, Woods suspects tournament organizers will leave the greens to bake, making a real challenge on a course that has been benign so far.
“I think they are going to try and push it a little bit. I think the forecast still is a lot of wind come Sunday. I don’t know how much water they are going to put on them,” he said.
Editing by Frank Pingue