NASSAU – A tropical breeze replaced the raging wind and made golf a lot easier for Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods and just about everyone else Thursday in the Hero World Challenge.
Reed took advantage of the back nine at Albany Golf Club for the second straight day. He was tied for the lead until making six birdies over his last 10 holes for a 6-under 66 that gave him a three-shot lead over U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland.
“It's one of those golf courses that when the wind lays down, it gives you opportunities to make birdies,” Reed said. “But when the wind starts blowing, the golf course can get really challenging. You need to give yourself as many opportunities as you can.”
Reed was at 12-under 132.
Woods, playing for the first time since he won in Japan for his record-tying 82nd career victory on the PGA Tour, kept a clean card to match Reed's 66 and remain six shots behind. Unlike the opening round, when Woods started poorly and ended even worse to wipe out a good back nine, he played bogey-free and made up ground on the back nine.
It started with a 6-iron that hopped onto the green at the par-5 11th and rolled 7 feet away for an eagle. He followed with a 7-iron to 8 feet for another birdie. He didn't make up any ground on Reed, but he at least cut down on the number of players ahead of him as he tries to win his holiday event for the first time since 2011.
“I just think it was less windy,” Woods said. “It was a little bit easier today.”
Once he got through the front nine, where he spent much of the time scrambling for pars outside of a lone birdie, Woods didn't miss too many shots coming in. A week before he heads over to Australia as the playing captain for the U.S. team in the Presidents Cup, the game looked to be in order.