Tiger Woods feels his game keeps “getting a little bit better” after moving into contention at the halfway stage of the Valspar Championship.
The 42-year-old, who had back surgery last year, is two shots off the lead, while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy missed the cut in Florida.
Woods’ second round of 68 moved him to a tie for second, four under overall.
“I’m getting a feel for it, finding the rhythm of rounds and not having a problem posting scores,” said Woods.
“I’ve got a chance going into the weekend,” added the 14-time major winner, who has not won a tournament since 2013.
“I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these subtle tweaks. I needed a little bit more tournament time in and I’ve done that.”
Woods shot a three-under 68 to go with his opening 70 and trails Canada’s Corey Conners – who has never won on the PGA Tour – by two shots, with England’s Paul Casey and Americans Brandt Snedeker, Kelly Kraft and Ryan Palmer all also on four under.
He started his second round on the back nine at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club and notched birdies with putts of six foot on his third and fourth holes, the second coming after a pin-point 187-yard tee shot.
A tee shot to within three feet of the pin on his 13th hole gave him a fourth birdie of the day and after thrilling fans with a trademark fist pump when he saved par on his 16th hole, he dropped his only shot by missing a five foot putt on his last hole.
Rose and Casey shine as McIlroy and Spieth exit
When 2018 began Woods said he hoped to build form for the Masters in April having missed so much competitive golf.
World number 12 Rory McIlroy in contrast has said he feels “totally ready” for the tournament at Augusta National, the only major he is yet to win.
But starting round two three over for the tournament, McIlroy dropped two more shots to end on five over, two shots outside the cut. Bogeys arrived on the second, seventh and 10th holes as he three-putted each.
Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell sneaked inside the cut line at three over, while Scotland’s Russell Knox (+1) and England’s Luke Donald (+2) also made the weekend.
England’s Justin Rose found a 39ft putt to bring up a third birdie of the day on the 15th hole as he moved into contention on three under. Like Rose, Casey – who is a shot better off – hit three birdies on the back nine as he chases a first win since 2014.
English trio Ian Poulter (+7), Matthew Fitzpatrick (+6) and Ross Fisher (+7) joined McIlroy as UK players to miss the cut but world number four Jordan Spieth was the highest-ranked player not to make the weekend, ending five over.
World-number-14 and 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson also missed out at six over.
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