Tiger Woods and England’s Justin Rose are tied for the lead at 7-under par following the second round of the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on Friday.
Woods narrowly missed a 31-foot putt for his second consecutive eagle on the 18th hole, settling for a birdie and a 2-under par round of 68. Playing a group in front of Woods, the top-ranked Rose also birdied the final hole to cap a 3 under 67.
The two will be paired together for Saturday’s third round, and Rose is anticipating a raucous crowd.
“Absolutely,” he told the Golf Channel. “There were enough today just playing in front of him.”
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is in third at 5 under, with a group of four players another stroke back including Patrick Cantlay, Billy Horschel, Spain’s Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas. Cantlay and Horschel carded the low rounds of the day with 5 under 65s.
Rickie Fowler, who shared the overnight lead with Woods, struggled to a 2-over 72 that left him in a tie for eighth with Kyle Stanley at 3 under.
Rose is currently projected to win the FedEx Cup playoffs as top-seeded Bryson DeChambeau continued to struggle with his driver and the Bermuda grass at East Lake.
“It would be another string to the bow,” Rose, who claimed the No. 1 world ranking for the first time last week to add to a resume that already includes major champion and Olympic gold medalist, told the Golf Channel. “It would be another sort of highlight to the resume, so to speak.
I think it’s all very well winning tournaments, there’s just something extra to winning a season-long thing. I was able to do that in Europe in ’07, and it gave me a tremendous amount of pride. To do it against the best players in the world would be absolutely incredible.”
The winner of the first two legs of the playoffs, DeChambeau carded seven bogeys in his 5 over 75 that left him in a tie for 27th at 6 over. Only presumptive Tour Player of the Year Brooks Koepka (7 over) is behind him.
DeChambeau, Rose and Thomas are three of the five players who would win the FedEx Cup’s $10 million prize with a victory this week, along with Tony Finau and Dustin Johnson.
Finau bogeyed three holes over a five-hole stretch on the back nine to fall to 1 over for the day. He came up two shots shy of tying Bob Estes’ PGA Tour record of 17 consecutive rounds in the 60s set in 2001. Finau, the only player to post top-10s in each of the first three playoff events this year, is still in the thick of the hunt in a tie for 10th at 2 under.
Johnson carded only two pars on an inconsistent front nine, but birdied his final two holes of the day to get back into red numbers. He is tied for 15th at 1 under.
Woods is currently projected to finish second in the FedEx Cup, as he needs to win this week and get some help. Rose would have to finish in a three-way tie for fifth or worse, Finau tie for third or worse, Johnson and Thomas finish in a three-way tie for second or worse and Keegan Bradley finish tied for second or worse.
Outside of Rose, all of the scenarios are playing out through two rounds for Woods, who qualified for the Tour Championship for the first time in five years.
“It’s a long season, and we’ve played a lot toward the end of our season,” Woods told the Golf Channel. “This is not an easy golf course. This is very much strategic … and you need lots and lots of patience here.”
Woods held the lead at 8 under following three birdies over a four-hole stretch, but drove it left off the 16th hole and wound up with a double bogey to drop back into a share for the lead with Rose, who had bogeyed 16 minutes before.
Both players parred the 17th hole, setting up a race to the finish on the reachable par-5 18th.
Rose blistered his drive into ideal position, but his approach came up short of the green. He got up-and-down for his birdie to get back to 7 under.
Meanwhile, Woods was also in the center of the fairway after smashing a 337-yard drive – his longest of the week – leaving just 225 yards to the hole. He hit his approach to just over 31 feet, but Woods’ eagle attempt missed left of the hole and he converted the short birdie putt.
“We have a long way to go,” Woods said. “This is not an easy golf course. It’s a grinder’s golf course – have to keep hanging in there, keep making a lot of pars. I did that today.
“I didn’t quite hit it as sharp as yesterday, but I ground out a round and shot something under par.”
Notes: The Open champion Francesco Molinari (5 over 75) failed to make a birdie or better for the first time since the third round of the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship. He is tied for 25th at 5 over for the tournament. … Phil Mickelson is also 5 over after shooting a 72 on Friday. … Aaron Wise, the lone rookie to qualify for the Tour Championship, is in a tie for 15th at 1 under. … Woods is the only two-time FedEx Cup champion (2007, ’09).
–Field Level Media