Belek (Turkey) (AFP) – European No.1 Henrik Stenson’s drive to extend his Race to Dubai lead is under threat after Tiger Woods shot a brilliant second round nine-under par 63 at the Turkish Airlines Open on Friday.
Stenson and Woods were among 63 players in the elite 78-player field who needed to return to the course at 8am local time to complete their delayed first round.
Stenson was among three players to head the $7 million event with an eight under par 64 while Woods continued to struggle with the driver in signing for a 70.
But after a short break Woods, who last won a regular European Tour event four years, birdied three holes in succession from his second hole on route to an 11-under total on the Maxx Royal course.
It left the 14-time Major winner trailing just one shot behind Stenson (68) and a trio of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, South African Justin Walters (66) and England’s Ian Poulter (66).
“This afternoon’s round was one of those rounds where it could have been really special,” said Woods.
“I missed probably about four putts inside 10-feet for birdie, and if I make those, it’s a pretty low round.
“The thing is the golf course is very receptive and we are going to have to shoot low rounds. The greens are slow, they are soft, and the balls are not rolling.
“It’s going to be 20-plus in order to win this tournament, if the weather stays nice like this.”
Around 30 people were present near the 11th green when Woods restarted his round at 8pm and by the time he completed his second near 4pm the crowd had swelled to a few thousand following him.
Stenson, who played the opening two rounds in the company of Woods, was among three players to lead the first round with the Swede shooting an eight under par 64.
However Stenson stalled over the front nine of his second round with nine straight pars in carding an eventual 68 and now finds Poulter, who is fourth on the Race to Dubai money list, sharing first place.
And while Poulter trails Stenson by some 542,000 euros on the money list he revealed a $100 bet at 10-1 with Stenson that he will finish the season in front of him in money earned.
Poulter indicated also the winner will have to serve the loser drinks at a restaurant of the winners’ choosing.
It has prompted plenty of on-course banter with Stenson mimicking a drink’s waiter by putting a towel over his arm and pointing in Poulter’s direction.
“We had the bet practicing one day at Lake Nona when Henrik was being interviewed by Swedish T.V. and I told him I would chase him down,” said Poulter.
“So he wanted to have a bet on that which he would in Henrik’s position given he is a long way in front.
“But he’s certainly fired-up this week whether we had the side bet or not but I’ve spotted him a few times on the golf course this week and every time he gets a towel out and puts it over his arm point at me as if I was a drink’s waiter.
“So given I am now sharing the lead with him I would have to think the odds are looking brighter on my side and hopefully they continue to get better.”
AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman