Happier Tiger returns to more familiar major territory

Kohler: The fist pump was back, if a little restrained, and world number one Tiger Woods had a smile on his face after he moved ominously into contention at the U.S. PGA Championship on Saturday.

Although he bogeyed his first hole of the day after resuming the weather-delayed second round at Whistling Straits, he covered his back nine in three under for a two-under-par 70 to finish just five strokes off the halfway lead.

At his best, Woods was a master at clawing his way into major contention heading into the weekend and he will gladly accept his position after recording the worst PGA Tour finish of his career last week.

With a divorce from his Swedish wife Elin reportedly imminent, his game was in disarray at Firestone Country Club as he ended up second-last in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, but Woods said his form on the greens was a big bonus.

"I`m not hitting it well here but I`m putting well and I`m right in the ball game," Woods told reporters after totalling only 25 putts in the second round, positioning himself to push on for his first major victory since the 2008 U.S. Open.

"There are some really tough pins, but there are some pretty accessible pins ... pins that you can be pretty aggressive at. You`ll probably see some pretty good scores this afternoon."

Unlike the first two days of competition, Saturday dawned clear to give the world number one and company the best playing conditions of the week as they worked their way toward the tournament`s midway point.

Woods, who has yet to win this season after his private life spectacularly unravelled at the end of last year amid revelations of marital infidelities, made a poor start when he bogeyed the par-three seventh.

Out in one-over 37, he got his round back on track with birdies at the 10th and 14th before picking up his third shot of the morning at the tricky par-three 17th where he hit a superb tee shot to seven feet.

He calmly sank the curling birdie putt and pumped his right fist in restrained celebration as the crowd packed around the green roared their approval.

Woods found trouble off the tee at the par-four 18th but, from an awkward stance in a bunker, he shaped a five-wood on to the front of the green to set up a two-putt par.

"I couldn`t build a stance...so I went in and tried to play it and I pulled it off," he said of the second shot.

The game`s leading player now has two more rounds to go as he seeks to pull off a fifth victory at the PGA Championship, and his first tournament win anywhere since the Australian Masters in November.

Bureau Report


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