“There’s a ton of guys with a chance to win,” Woods said. “I can’t go out there and shoot even par and expect to win. I’ve got to go out there and go get it.”
Rock, who got his first European Tour win last year in Italy in a playoff with Sergio Garcia, admitted he was star-struck at the prospect of teeing off alongside Woods, calling him “the best guy I’ve ever seen play golf.”
Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, showed some of the form he displayed when he finished second at the Dubai World Championship in December. He strung together birdies on 10 and 11 to tie Woods for the lead, fell back with bogeys on 14 and 17 and then recovered to birdie the 18th.
Molinari and Hanson also bounced back from opening round 74s to move into contention. Molinari had five birdies on his back nine, while the 47th-ranked Swede had eight birdies in his round — including three on the last five holes — in a bogey-free round to finish with the lowest score of the day.
U.S. Open champion McIlroy also is still in the mix, a day after he had two double bogeys, including on the 9th when he was penalized for brushing away sand in front of his ball. He only had one bogey to go with five birdies Saturday, but the 22-year-old Northern Irishman was forced to scramble several times to save par, including on the 18th when an errant drive went into nearby rocks and almost into a pond.
“I definitely felt today was a lot better than yesterday,” McIlroy said. “So hopefully I can just keep that going tomorrow and maybe get off to a fast start and put pressure on the guys in front of me.”
Top-ranked Luke Donald (73) is 11 shots behind Woods, with No. 2-ranked Lee Westwood (68) seven off the lead.
Any victory would bolster Woods‘ claims that work with coach Sean Foley has successfully revamped his swing with a better trajectory on his shots. The process sputtered early on but his body is now “remembering these positions, because this is what I used to be when I was a kid.”
“And that’s one of the things that Sean showed me, some video stuff when I was much younger, back in my teenage years,” Woods said. “He was like, ‘It’s amazing, we need to get back there. That’s where you play some pretty good golf.’ I said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I did’.”
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