MIAMI • For Tiger Woods to remain part of the Honda Classic equation, post-cut, is notable enough. For the 14-time Major champion to be in the top 10 for a spell on Friday was the stuff of a Florida fairy tale.
There was to be no dream scenario, as befitting the encounters with harsh reality he has become accustomed to, just when progress appears rapid.
Woods has encountered far worse in recent times than a bite from the Bear Trap - the PGA National Golf Club's infamous set of three holes from the 15th - but what transpired there stung nonetheless.
He took to the windswept 15th tee while one under for his round and in a share of ninth, a slightly remarkable scenario given his lack of competitive action and the difficulties associated with a venue where the cut fell at plus five.
Trouble beckoned, including for energised galleries, as the 42-year-old carved a horrible iron shot into alligator-ridden waters.
A Woods double bogey was compounded by a three-putt and dropped shot at the 16th.
A fine tee shot into the penultimate hole preceded crowd chants of "Tiger, Tiger". He duly holed out from 12 feet for a superb birdie.
Packed stands roared once more.
One is left to wonder what on earth will transpire if this fallen genius actually wins again.
Typically, he believes he can do that this week.
Woods signed for a one-over 71 after the second round, leaving him four strokes off the lead.
Americans Luke List (66) and Jamie Lovemark (69) are tied at the summit of the leaderboard on 137.
England's Tommy Fleetwood (68) and overnight co-leader Webb Simpson (72) were among four players on minus two.
"I'm four back so I'm right in the ball game," said a bullish Woods, who is joint 14th along with Swede Alex Noren (75), who had shared the first-round lead with Simpson.
"I really played well today. I feel like I'm right there. I'm right where I can win a golf tournament. Four back on this course with 36 holes to go? Anybody can win this tournament right now. It's wide open."
Rory McIlroy carded a second 72 in as many days, thereby surviving the cut for the weekend. Holder Rickie Fowler (76) missed the cut and Ian Poulter (73), Graeme McDowell (77), Luke Donald (74) and Padraig Harrington (76) suffered the same fate.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS
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