Englishman Chris Wood will play the third round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with Tiger Woods, the man he idolised growing up, after a two under par 68 at Firestone Country Club on day two.
While Woods blew away with the rest of the field with a blistering 61, Wood quietly plotted his way to six under par for the tournament and tied second with defending champion Keegan Bradley, some seven shots behind the 14-time Major winner.
The trio will play in a three-ball on Saturday – a measure taken by tournament organisers after a bad weather forecast – and Wood is excited, if not a little daunted, at the prospect of playing alongside his favourite player.
“I’ve never been out with him,” said Wood, who is making his debut in the event. “He’s as high as you can get in my book. What he’s achieved is just phenomenal. He’s been my golfing hero since I was ten, when I started the game. To be out with the World Number One, Tiger Woods, is going to take a bit of getting used to.
“He’s obviously on his game. He was hitting balls next to me on the range this morning and I said to my caddie that he looked really impressive, totally in control. It’s going to be a real challenge for me tomorrow.
“But I’ve got to forget about all that sort of thing. As hard as it’s going to be, I’ve just got to try to play my game and enjoy the experience. To play with Tiger in the final group in a big event is pretty special.”
The world seemed to be on 59 watch as Woods birdied four in a row from the tenth to reach nine under for the round, but he parred his way home and saved a four on the last with a magnificent putt from 25 feet.
“I’m very happy I was able to post that,” said the 37 year old, seeking his eighth victory in this event. “I just kept thinking, whatever lead I had, let’s just keep increasing this lead. It’s at seven now, so not too bad after two days.”
Swede Henrik Stenson was level par to stay at five under and tied fourth, while England’s Luke Donald moved to four under and a share of sixth place with a 69. Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy followed a 70 with a 71 to lie tied 25th.