NASSAU – Two big birdies from Gary Woodland gave him the lead in the Hero World Challenge. A closing birdie on a hole that has vexed Tiger Woods put him in range of a third victory this year.
Patrick Reed fully expected to be right there until watching video of his club moving sand away from his golf ball in a waste area, leading to a two-shot penalty in a round that didn't go all that well in the first place.
The end of an entertaining round Friday in this holiday event in the tropics set up what figures to be a lively conclusion. Woodland's final two birdies gave him a 4-under 68 and a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson.
Six players were separated by three shots.
That includes Woods, who hasn't won his event since it was in California in 2011. With one eye on being a playing captain at the Presidents Cup next week in Australia, Woods focused on birdies instead of potential pairings at Royal Melbourne and was two shots off the lead.
The final round is Saturday, so the American team — 11 are in the tournament, Dustin Johnson is coming to the Bahamas to join them on the charter — can get an early start across the globe.
“I just have to focus on going out there and making birdies," Woods said. “And then I have 23 hours on a plane to recover.”
Woodland makes his Presidents Cup debut next week, and he appears to be in good form. He dropped only one shot, gave another way by failing to birdie the par-5 15th, and then finished in style. First, he holed a 30-foot putt on the par-3 17th. Then, with the wind at his back, he hit wedge to 3 feet for another birdie.