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Tiger Watch

Tiger Woods' 'beta test' at the Hero has seen mixed results so far

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Tiger Woods waits to play his shot from the eighth tee during the second round of the Hero World Challenge.

Tracy Wilcox

NASSAU, Bahamas — More good than bad. That about sums up the second round of the Hero World Challenge on Friday for host Tiger Woods.

Woods started fast with birdies on four of his first seven holes, but he couldn’t sustain the pace, struggling in the same area of the golf course where he encountered trouble during Thursday’s opening round. But a birdie on the par-three 17th hole was a soothing balm after a few scrapes, and he ended up with a somewhat satisfying two-under 70 at Albany.

“It was better than yesterday, for sure,” said Woods, 47, who played alongside Rickie Fowler, who also shot 70. “I've been more committed than I was yesterday. I made a few mistakes and overall the round was better, for sure. The start was better, the middle part of the round was better. I missed a couple putts there towards the end I thought would have kept the round going, and, unfortunately, it kind of stalled out a little bit.”

The rough patch came in the middle of the back nine starting with a bogey on the 13th hole. At the par-5 15th, Woods faced an approach of only 182 yards, but he found the bunker, blasted out poorly and then putted off the green back into the bunker before saving bogey with a 15-footer. He then bogeyed the 16th for the second day in a row.

At one-over 145, Woods is in 15th place in the 20-man field and trails leaders Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth by 10 strokes.

Mental fatigue? Physical fatigue? Rust? “I think it's all of the above, and I just haven't done it,” he replied. “I haven't played in six months. Things are not as sharp as they normally would be. Hey, it certainly … there's some good in there and just got to make sure that the good is more consistent than it has been.”

It was just his second competitive round since undergoing ankle fusion surgery in April after having to withdraw from the Masters. There are sure to be bumps along the way as he gets reacclimated to tournament conditions. At least he had more reasons to smile than grimace.

“I can play at home, I can walk, walk beaches, do all those things at home, but it's different when you're at game speed,” Woods said. “Like I was saying yesterday, game speed's different than home speed. You can simulate all you want at home, and I had it the best I possibly can. We played a lot of money matches at home and tried to simulate it, but it's just different. The mind's racing more, the anxiety, the emotions are just different than at home. You can always drop a ball at home, no big deal. Here it's going to cost you.

“As I said to you guys in the press conference on Tuesday, this week is a great beta test to figure out what I can do, what the plan is going forward, what we're going to do in the gym, what I need to do, and just overall just analyze what it's like to compete and play and the things I need to strengthen and the things I need to work on in the gym to be ready for next year and the next season.”