Mud, sweat and cheers as Tiger lurks in Malaysia


Tiger Woods battled through mud and scorching temperatures to stay in contention with a fighting 67 at Malaysia’s CIMB Classic on Friday, leaving him five shots off leader Robert Garrigus.
The 14-time Major winner mixed slices off the tee and errant putts with great escapes and a memorable chip-in, in a rollercoaster round watched by hundreds of loyal fans at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur.
A day after raising the prospect of a 59 at the venue, softened by Malaysia’s regular heavy rain, Woods was overshadowed by playing partner Jbe Kruger, who ignored the crowds and heat for 64 and second place, two off the leader.
America’s Garrigus carded his second 64 in a row for 14-under-par 128, raising hopes of only his second ever US PGA Tour win, with a low-scoring weekend in prospect at the no-cut, 48-man event with a US$6.1 million purse.
Kruger was alone in second with Greg Chalmers and Troy Matteson, the overnight leader, two shots further back. Woods, Brendon de Jonge and Kevin Na were grouped on nine under par.
“It’s wet, it’s a little bit muddy. It (low scoring) can be had out there, guys are shooting good scores, a bunch of 65s and lower today,” Woods said.
“It’s going to take a really low total (to win). I’ve just to get after it tomorrow so at least I’ll have a chance on Sunday.”
Woods had headed straight for a cold shower after sauna conditions in round one, but if he thought Thursday was hot, Friday was a furnace.
“That’s one of the hard things. You’ve got to just somehow suck it up and do it,” he said of the heat, forecast to again hit 32 degrees Celsius (90F) over the weekend.
“It was bothering everybody I think. It’s hot out there and humid… There’s just no wind here. It’s just so still and heavy.”
With sweat dripping from his head as early as the second tee, Woods mirrored his first day by opening with two pars and then birdying the par-five third, where a 12-foot eagle putt went begging.
Drama struck on the fourth hole as Woods sliced his tee-shot into trees and then watched as his recovery attempt lodged at the bottom of a steep, muddy, lakeside bank just inches from water by the green.
But in a tough escape, Woods took a difficult stance and hacked the ball, along with clods of mud, onto the green and two-putted from 20 feet for bogey.
Woods drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the next hole, and missed an 18-foot opportunity on the sixth — but holed a memorable chip for birdie on the par-three seventh.
A birdie on 11 gave him a share of fourth, and he seemed to have conjured more heroics after another sliced tee-shot put him into undergrowth on a steep slope on the par-four 12th.
Woods grabbed his fairway iron and blasted to near the green, and then chipped to four feet — but watched in frustration as the short par putt rolled just wide.
Meanwhile, round partner Kruger, who had seized the joint lead with a run of six birdies, also bogeyed 12, but then the South African hit back with birdies on 13 and 17.
Woods made a six-foot save on the 14th, and he surged back up the leaderboard at the 15th, where a 20-yard eagle chip bounced out of the cup and left him with a simple three-footer for birdie.
Another birdie on the par-five 17th, and a missed eight-foot attempt at the last, left him five shots off Garrigus, whose lead was slashed by a disappointing bogey on the final hole.
“I’m two shots ahead of the field right now. That means nothing,” Garrigus said. “I’ll probably be tied for the lead or behind before I get on the tee box tomorrow. That happens a lot.
“I’ve just got to go out and have fun, enjoy it and see what happens.”