Woods briefly leads, trails Hoffman by five in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas — One of the biggest cheers at the Hero World Challenge came from seeing the name Tiger Woods moved to the top of the leaderboard.

It just wasn’t there for long.

In another impressive showing in his latest comeback from back surgeries, Woods built on a solid start with a 31 on the front nine at Albany Golf Club that briefly gave him the lead Friday. He stalled on the back nine with a pair of bogeys and not enough birdie chances, and he settled for a 4-under 68.

“Successful,” Woods said when asked to describe his round in one word.

When the second round ended, Woods was five shots behind Charley Hoffman, who had a 63 that might have sent fans into a frenzy if they had been watching.

Hoffman made 12 birdies, closing with five in a row. He was at 12-under 132 and had a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth (67) and Tommy Fleetwood (69). Hoffman made only one par over his final 12 holes to go along with eight birdies and three bogeys.

But this week, a holiday exhibition with an 18-man field and no cut, is all about Woods. That much was obvious after the round.

Hoffman spoke to no more than five reporters about his round, while a dozen others were about 30 feet away surrounding Joe LaCava, Woods’ caddie, looking for any additional morsel about his round.

Woods delivered plenty on his own. He opened with three birdies in four holes. He made three good pars, one of them having to chip up the slope from a thin lie on No. 8, and then really raised hopes with his eagle on the par-5 ninth, set up by a 3-wood into the wind from 265 yards.

“Hit up in the air and took something off of it and cut it back into the wind,” he said.

He made the 20-foot putt to reach 8 under. Behind him, Hoffman made bogey on the par-3 eighth. Woods was alone in the lead, and the workers at the white scoreboard to the left of the green quickly moved his name to the top as some 100 people — that constitutes a large gallery this week — began cheering. There was a smattering of “He’s back!” and even a few mentions about the Masters.

Woods missed it. He was on his way to the 10th tee.

Despite losing the lead on the back nine, Woods still has the weekend to look forward to.

“I felt like today I could have easily gotten to double digits under par,” he said. “That would have put me probably one or two back, but I think I’m still in it. We’ve got two more days, and I think it’s supposed to blow a little harder tomorrow. If that’s the case, I think a good, solid round should get me up there.”

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HERO WORLD CHALLENGE

Friday’s Second Round

At Nassau, Bahamas

Charley Hoffman 69-63–132 -12

Jordan Spieth 68-67–135 -9

Tommy Fleetwood 66-69–135 -9

Justin Rose 68-68–136 -8

Hideki Matsuyama 71-66–137 -7

Tiger Woods 69-68–137 -7

Francesco Molinari 69-68–137 -7

Matt Kuchar 67-70–137 -7

Rickie Fowler 67-70–137 -7

Patrick Reed 72-66–138 -6

Kevin Chappell 68-70–138 -6

Justin Thomas 69-70–139 -5

Dustin Johnson 68-72–140 -4

Henrik Stenson 70-71–141 -3

Alex Noren 73-69–142 -2

Kevin Kisner 70-72–142 -2

Daniel Berger 75-73–148 +4

Brooks Koepka 71-78–149 +5