As Tiger Woods Fades, Charley Hoffman Builds a Five-Stroke Lead

As Tiger Woods Fades, Charley Hoffman Builds a Five-Stroke Lead

NASSAU, Bahamas — Charley Hoffman handled the blustery conditions for a five-shot lead in the Hero World Challenge as Tiger Woods fell 10 shots behind.

The wind was the strongest it has been all week at Albany Golf Club, and it showed in the scores on Saturday. Hoffman had a two-under-par 70 that matched the best score of the day, and only three other players broke par.

The wind also took the air out of any hopes that Woods, playing for the first time in 10 months after a fourth back surgery, would get into the mix at his holiday tournament. Instead, he was blown away early and battled late for a 75.

Woods opened with four bogeys in seven holes. He went 11 straight holes without hitting a green. He did not have a birdie putt on four of the par-5s he played. And he didn’t make a birdie until the 14th green, removing his cap to acknowledge the crowd.

“It’s ridiculous it took me 14 holes to make a birdie,” Woods said. “At that time, I’d already played four par-5s and nothing happened. Just one of those days.”

Hoffman hit his share of bad shots, sending his tee shot into the bushes on a sand dune right of the 10th fairway. He took a penalty drop onto a sandy path and wound up with a double bogey that brought a half-dozen players back into the mix.

But not for long.

Hoffman closed with three birdies over his last five holes, including the 18th hole for the second straight day. That put him at 14-under 202.

Justin Rose, an Albany resident, had a 71 and joined the British Open champion Jordan Spieth (72) at nine-under 207.

Francesco Molinari of Italy was another shot behind.

“I got lucky on some tee balls that didn’t find the bushes and stayed in the sandy areas and I was able to sort of scrap it around,” Hoffman said. “I’m going to have to handle my nerves a little better than I did today”

Woods was under pressure early. In his previous two rounds of 69 and 68, he was under par early in the round. This one started with a tee shot into the waste area, an approach the wind knocked down short of the green and a chip that was too strong, running 10 feet by and leading to a bogey.

Even his good shots didn’t work out for him. Woods blistered a 3-wood from 278 yards into the wind and saw it run through the green into a tough lie. His chip didn’t reach the green. His next chip ran 6 feet by the hole and he missed the par putt.

He bogeyed the next par-5 when he didn’t play for a flier out of the rough, went well long and was left in such a tough spot that he played away from the flag, and his pitch went through the green to the fringe.

He already was five-over for his round through 10 holes, and he did well not to drop any more shots until he made a pair of birdies late.

Published at Sun, 03 Dec 2017 05:02:36 +0000

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