Melbourne: Tiger Woods produced a topsy-turvy one-over par second round of 72 at the Australian Masters on Friday, while Sergio Garcia completed a remarkable turnaround to soar into contention for a first win in two years.
Defending champion Woods, who has not won since claiming the gold jacket at nearby Kingston Heath 12 months ago and could end the year without a title for the first time since turning professional in 1996, mixed three birdies with four bogeys to finish on one under 141.
The American was nine shots behind Australia’s Adam Bland, who followed his first round 65 with a four-under 67 in blustery, humid conditions to take a two-stroke lead over compatriot Andre Stolz (67).
Spain’s Garcia, who had a terrible first 16 holes on Thursday before two late birdies allowed him to start the day at Victoria Golf Club on two over, soared up the leaderboard with a six-under 65 to finish on four-under 138.
“It just seemed like it was one of those days,” the 30-year-old Garcia said after putting himself into contention to claim a first title since he won the Castello Masters in 2008.
“We were making the right decisions at the time and (if you) put that with the way I hit the ball it... was one of those rounds where everything was on.
“I’m just taking it slowly and taking the positives out of everything and trying to make sure that rounds like yesterday don’t effect me. It helped me today, coming in a better mood.”
Woods, however, was having no such luck and while he began with a birdie on the 233-metre par-four first, he also produced bogeys at the par-four fifth and par-three seventh before he made a birdie on the 559-metre par-five ninth.
The world number two was then also slightly disrupted when playing partner Robert Allenby’s wayward drive, that had drifted left on the 10th hole, hit a spectator on the head.
The bloodied man, who was knocked to the ground and lay still for several minutes, was treated by medical staff and he managed to smile and wave to the crowd and an apologetic Allenby as he was taken away for further care.
Woods continued his patchy form with back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th holes before he consolidated with three successive pars.
He missed an eagle putt on the par-five 17th though managed to grab his third birdie of the round before a wayward drive and second shot on 18 left him with a long birdie putt that he pushed well left.
“It was tougher today when the wind blows hard... I was struggling a little bit today but I was trying to be as committed as I could be, and it was a little more difficult than it should have been but I got through it,” he told Australian television.
“I hit the ball well off the tee but wasn’t as sharp as I should have been.”