Graeme McDowell got off to a hot start on a cool, damp day Friday, finishing with seven birdies in a six-under 66 for a three-shot lead in the Tiger Woods-hosted World Challenge.
Northern Ireland’s McDowell had a 36-hole total of nine-under 135 at Sherwood Country Club, where 18 golfers are chasing a first prize of US$1 million from the total purse of US$4 million.
Bo Van Pelt, Jim Furyk and Keegan Bradley shared second on 138. Van Pelt posted a 68 while Furyk and Bradley both carded 69s.
Woods, who hosts the unofficial event for the benefit of his charitable foundation, thrust himself into contention with a run of four birdies in five holes starting at the ninth.
However, he lost some traction with his second bogey of the day at 15 and signed for a three-under 69 for 139.
“I certainly hit the ball a lot better than I did yesterday, made a couple more putts,” said Woods, who added that “a nice little groove hitting irons” was the key to his run.
Otherwise, Woods said the conditions on the rain-softened course were “tricky.”
“The greens were so soft, and we had to hit so much club to try and take the spin off the ball ... but you know, all the par-fives were reachable with good drives, and a couple of pins you could use slopes to get the ball close,” he said.
McDowell won this tournament in 2010, capping an outstanding season that included his US Open triumph. He has not won since, and admitted it would be nice to punctuate a season in which he finished equal second at the US Open and tied for fifth at the British Open with a win — even in a non-tour tournament.