World Number One, Tiger Woods, carded a best-of-the-day 66, four under par, to sweep into a five stroke lead over a quartet of players including Sergio Garcia of Spain at the halfway stage of the World Golf Championships – American Express Championship at the Capital City Club, Atlanta.
Woods, the defending champion and bidding for his third victory in the event, heads the way with a seven under par total of 133 while Garcia, the first round leader, shot a 73 on a difficult day to join Korean KJ Choi (71), Tim Herron (72) and Rocco Mediate (72) on 138.
Woods bagged seven birdies, including five in an outward 31, to break clear of the field on a day when the rock hard greens took their toll of the field and resulted in only seven players out of 72 starters finishing under par after 36 holes.
Garcia was out on his own early on after picking up a shot at the third to climb to six under par, but he dropped five shots in eight holes before regrouping and making birdies at the 12th and 13th. He said: “I played very well and only really missed a couple of shots. I couldn’t hole any putts and that was the difference – Tiger was making them and I wasn’t.
“After the 11th I said to my caddie, Glenn, that I would be happy to finish no worse than that total so it was nice to keep in there, although a shame I didn’t make birdie attempts at the last three holes.”
Another Spaniard, Ignacio Garrido, added a 71 to his opening 68 to finish a shot behind Garcia on 139. Playing with Woods, the Volvo PGA champion matched the leader’s birdie three at the last to finish the day in style.
He commented: “This is a course where you need to just hang in there and I did that. Some of the pins were evil – unbelievable. One the 13th I faced a putt where I knew it would be difficult just to three putt! I was completely snookered.
“The greens are not forgiving at all and you have to be patient and wait for your opportunities and take them. It’s so easy to make a mistake if your concentration wavers for a split second.”
Garrido’s comments were echoed by Niclas Fasth and Lee Westwood, who finished four over and three over respectively. Fasth, the Swedish Ryder Cup player, said: “The greens were completely unplayable and that is such a pity. On Tuesday they were the best I had seen.”
Westwood, who fired a round of 71 despite a bogey at the last, observed: “The main difficulty is that good shots don’t get rewarded. The greens are ridiculously quick.”
One of the best forward moves of the day was made by England’s Justin Rose, whose 69 for 144 moved him through the field up to a share of 16th place. Yet ten minutes before his tee time, Rose was uncertain that he would start the round, far less complete it.
“I hurt my neck on Monday and wasn’t sure if I would tee it up. Fortunately I had treatment and knocked my first drive 20 yards past my playing partners so I reckoned it couldn’t be that bad!”
Rose proceeded to birdie the first two holes and made two more to counteract three bogeys as he put himself in position for a high finish.