Scottie Scheffler was the biggest mover on day two of the Hero World Challenge and his six-under 66 saw him climb into a share of the lead alongside Jordan Spieth who took one stroke more.
The world number one might not have won since The Players Championship back in March, but today he issued a pertinent reminder of exactly how good he can be if his putter – and he has a new one in the bag this week – behaves itself.
The bigger of the two Texans made eight birdies on the day, and was the only player in the field to reach double figures before a loose approach from the rough at the last lead to a bogey which dropped him back into a share with his fellow Statesman who was playing two groups behind.
“I drove it well,” Scheffler said afterwards, “gave myself a lot of chances. Yeah, that’s probably the thing I did best. Then for the most part I kept a clean card. I got a bad break on No. 8, made a bogey, and then got in a weird spot there on 18, but outside of that I played pretty solid.”
Spieth’s opening round of -4 was the kind of up-and-down day for which the three-time major winner has become famed, making just five pars with a brace of eagles, a double bogey and six birdies, but his five-under second round was a lot more professional. Five birdies, 13 pars and no bogeys were on the card when all was said and done and the duo lead by two over Justin Thomas, with Matt Fitzpatrick, Collin Morikawa and Tony Finau one shot further adrift in a tie for fourth.
“Yeah, I just, I felt like yesterday I maybe had a little hesitation off the tee,” Spieth explained when asked about his improved driving today. “I just have not played a lot of rounds and having some toes and heels, just not finding the center of the face. Today I hit a couple good ones early and I just decided to continue to trust and focus on really just trying to hit the center of the face with intent on the shot. Just basic stuff, but stuff that you can get a little mentally rusty if you’re not really dialed in on it.”
Shortly before the leaders took to the final holes, Tiger Woods signed for a two-under 70. The five stroke improvement on his opening 75 could’ve been significantly greater had he not succumbed to more back nine rustiness, dropping three strokes in four holes with the par-5 15th – he double bogeyed it in round one – again taking its pound of flesh, though the sight of Woods hammering a putt well beyond the pin and into the greenside bunker won’t be easily erased from memory.
Today’s most up-and-down round belonged to Lucas Glover, who had a triple-bogey ‘snowman’ at the par-5 ninth, and navigated the 17th in seven strokes less as he hit an inch perfect 9-iron that pitched inches short and found the bottom of the cup for a hole in one. It’s Glover’s eighth ace on tour – five have come in competition and three in tour practice rounds – but incredibly he’s never had one outside of that.
Viewers are set for a treat on Saturday as the draw sees Tiger Woods paired with Viktor Hovland at 16:43 Irish time. Though both are well down the leaderboard, it’s a group that’s sure to get a lot of TV time, while Brian Harman joins Justin Thomas in the second-to-last pairing with Spieth and Scheffler set to tee off at 18:00.