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Friday, 02 August 2013
Tiger Woods  (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods (Getty Images)

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England’s Chris Wood led The European Tour challenge as Tiger Woods made a stunning start to the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to boost his hopes of an amazing eighth victory in the event.

Wood birdied the first and sixth either side of a bogey at the fifth to advance to five under for the event after seven holes.

Two shots off the pace after an opening 66, Woods holed from three feet for a birdie at the first and 20 feet for eagle at the second when he returned to Firestone Country Club on Friday.

And when the World Number One also birdied the third from 12 feet he was suddenly two shots clear of defending champion Keegan Bradley and first round leader Webb Simpson.

Bradley had reached eight under thanks to four birdies in his first 11 holes, but dropped shots at the fourth and seventh meant the former US PGA Champion had to settle for a round of 68.

That set the clubhouse target at six under par, with Simpson also six under after getting his second round under way with a par on the first.

World Number Three Rory McIlroy, looking to replicate the fifth place finish of last year which kick-started his season, had bogeyed the last in a first round of 70 and added a 71 today to lie one over.

McIlroy began from the tenth and opened with four pars before a double bogey six on the 14th, where a drive into heavy rough meant the Northern Irishman needed three shots to get himself out of trouble.

However, the 24 year old had bounced back after a double bogey on the tenth yesterday and did the same again, holing from three feet on the par five 16th and 15 feet on the 17th for birdie.

A string of pars was followed by a bogey on the fifth, where he failed to get up and down from just short of the green, and a birdie on the eighth was also followed by a closing bogey on the ninth.

Woods got up and down for par on the next two holes - the latter from a greenside bunker - and then made a more adventurous par on the sixth after his pulled drive ended up at the base of a tree.

From there he could only chip out across the fairway alongside playing partner Hideki Matsuyama's tee shot, but after hitting his third shot into 25 feet the 14-time Major winner holed for an unlikely four.

A superb tee shot to within three feet of the pin on the seventh set up another birdie from the seventh one putt of the round, but that run finally came to an end with a two-putt par on the eighth.

A birdie putt from 15 feet on the ninth narrowly missed but Woods was still out in 30 and, at nine under, three shots clear of Bradley and Simpson.

Woods was not about to slow down either, holing from seven feet on the tenth, five feet on the 11th and 20 feet on the 12th for a hat-trick of birdies to leave the field trailing in his wake.

The 37 year old was now six shots clear and eight under for the round, needing to play the last six holes in three under to shoot a magical 59 for the first time in his career.

Woods made the most of a stroke of good luck on the 13th, hitting his approach to 15 feet and making the birdie putt after his drive had bounced off a tree and back into the fairway.

Another bad drive on the next was not so fortunate, although Woods did have a shot through the trees and was able to find the back of the green, from where he chipped to six feet and holed for par.

Almost unnoticed in all the excitement, Wood had moved into outright second place with birdies on 15 and 16 taking him to seven under par, six behind Woods.

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