NORTON -- On Friday, fans at TPC Boston were just happy to see Tiger Woods play here for the first time in five years.
On Saturday, they got to see him move up the leaderboard.
Continuing his remarkable comeback from several back surgeries, Woods fired a 5-under 66, six shots better than his opening round, to jump from a tie for 57th into a share of 21st halfway through the Dell Technologies Championship. At 4-under 138, he trails leader Webb Simpson by seven shots.
"I've got some work to do still," Woods said. "I'm six (actually seven) back. Again, this is a golf course you can't sit still on. You have to keep making birdies, you have to keep getting after it."
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Woods made no bogeys and carded five birdies, including draining a 25-footer on 14.
"That was a good little putt," he said. "I've had that putt before. I just tried to be confident in my read, and it came out OK."
A year ago Friday, Woods tweeted that his doctors had cleared him to finally attempt pitch shots after undergoing his fourth back surgery. He remembers being very tentative back then.
"I was very nervous," he said, "because I didn't want to screw it up. This is it. So if it doesn't fuse, there really is no other option."
But his back did fuse, and now he's hoping to grab a second victory here to go with the one he earned in 2006.
Lefty likes Boston
Phil Mickelson has played at TPC Boston every year since he won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2007, so he's sad to hear that the PGA Tour won't return here next year.
Beginning in 2019, the FedEx Cup Playoffs will be reduced from four events to three and start earlier to avoid conflicting with the NFL. So TPC Boston won't host an event next year, but will the year after. There's talk of TPC Boston and the New York area rotating a playoff event for the foreseeable future, but the Tour has not committed to TPC Boston beyond 2020.
"From the Tour's point of view," Mickelson said, "for the FedEx Cup to only have three (events) I think is a better situation for the playoffs. It's too bad or it sucks that this is the one that's being left out, and hopefully we'll keep coming back and maybe alternate because again the sports fans are so great here, but to play three playoff events in a row as opposed to four over five weeks, the interest wanes. So I think the scheduling and everything in the big picture is great for the tour, but in the small picture here this tournament being left out is disappointing for us all, but we'll hopefully get back here every other year."
After a light turnout for the opening round on Friday, the galleries were much larger on Saturday.
Mickelson was 4 over on the day through five holes, but carded three birdies to finish with his second consecutive 1-over 72 to make the cut on the number at 2 over.
Mickelson ranks 10th in U.S. Ryder Cup points and only the top eight have been assured of making the team so he'll have to rely on Jim Furyk to select him as a captain's pick on Tuesday. When Mickelson began playing in the Ryder Cup, the top 10 on the points list automatically made the U.S. team, but now only the top eight do.
"But I like the new way," he said, "because the captain has the freedom to fill out the roster that gives the team the best chemistry as well as specific players for the course."
Mickelson missed the cut only once at TPC Boston, in 2016, but he tied for sixth last year.
"It hit it terrible today, but it's not far off," he said. "If I go out and drive well tomorrow with pure greens, I should be able to shoot a good round."
Spieth heats up
Jordan Spieth bogeyed his first two holes on Saturday to fall to even par for the tournament, but he didn't get discouraged. He got going.
Spieth carded seven birdies, including six in a stretch of eight holes, before missing the green on the par-3 eighth to card a late bogey and finish with a 4-under 67 to move into a tie for seventh at 6 under.
"I got the putter going," he said, "and played the easy holes pretty well this week, especially the par 5s in order to move up the board."
This article is written by Bill Doyle from Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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