TOKYO • The galleries at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club were yesterday closed due to safety concerns but, had spectators been allowed on the course, they would have been treated to another golfing clinic from Tiger Woods.
Although the weather has proven to be an unexpected roadblock for the Zozo Championship, the PGA Tour's first tournament in Japan, after play was called off on Friday and the final round being pushed back to tomorrow, the torrential rain has failed to put a dampener on Woods' form.
In his first event for two months after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery for the fifth time, he lit up the back nine to card his second straight six-under 64 for a total of 12-under 128, taking a two-stroke lead over fellow American Gary Woodland.
Expressing his surprise that he was able to get into his groove so quickly, Woods, who is chasing a record-equalling 82nd Tour win to match Sam Snead, said: "It usually takes a little bit of time.
"I've been able to strike my irons pretty well this week so far and that's been nice. I'm surprised that I was able to score as well as I have."
Overnight joint-leader Woodland also revealed he had to dig deep for his 66 to keep in touch with Woods.
"It was a grind all day," said the US Open champion.
"I didn't have my best stuff today. Fortunately I made three big putts there on 16, 17 and 18 which were awesome."
Woods had bounced back from bogeying his opening three holes with nine birdies en route to a 64 in the first round, but the world No. 10 felt yesterday that he "hit the ball a little bit better than I did (on Thursday)" and was hopeful "that trend continues".
Spectators will, however, be allowed back for today's rescheduled third round and the 15-time Major winner admitted he could not wait to play in front of nearly 20,000 fans again, with the empty galleries just the second time in his pro career he has played without a crowd.
"I made a couple (of) putts and I went to put my hand up and I'm like, 'Don't put your hand up, there's no one clapping'," Woods added.
"So just move on about your business, and just go ahead and keep trying to plug my way up the board, and I was able to do that."
While the final round will commence immediately after the third to get as many holes in before dark, the event is set to only finish tomorrow, and Woods is steeling himself for "a long one".
"We're going to play it from sun-up to sundown," he said.
"Looking to get somewhere near 27 holes in tomorrow. Hopefully, I can play well and get myself right there."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS