Tiger plays down fitness concerns, encouraged by Open start

Carnoustie Golf Club

Will somebody do what Tommy Fleetwood did on Friday and shoot a 6-under 65 to take charge going into Sunday's final round?

US Open champion Brooks Koepka went out on five-over 41 but rallied for a gutsy 72, which was just one more than Tiger Woods, who cruised through the turn in an immaculate 34 before fading to a level-par 71.

Last year American golfer Jordan Spieth, who is a three-time major victor and the 2015 FedEx Cup champion, won the championship. "Today wasn't quite as good, but I finally birdied the par 5". So that's a positive. I don't really think you can get a much tougher test than Shinnecock or Carnoustie.

"It will be a pretty packed leaderboard, and I'm certainly right there in it", Woods said.

Zach Johnson has more than held his own. Even while the morning wasn't especially brutal as it lacked menacing wind, the afternoon promised more kindness.

Still, Woods found the course slightly preferable on Friday, another in the chorus of varying voices stemming from the odd conditions of Thursday with its parched earth and rolling golf balls. "I kind of let the golf course come to me".

Having started Friday with bogeys on Nos.

"I've been a little bit too careful and tentative when I've been in these big tournaments", the 4-time major champion added. "I would rather fail by trying 100% than by holding back and maybe not giving myself the opportunity to do well", said McIlroy.

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"The round itself was just something that was very special and very close to being a one-and-only round, " Fleetwood said.

After his off time and his back surgery of a year ago, this was all preferable.

After a shaky start that included bogeys at the second and third holes, Woods recovered with back-to-back birdies. In a rare known case of male athletic candour, he confessed straightway it had affected him on Thursday.

"I mean, it's Tiger Woods". I'd like to beat Gary Player one time. But, I mean, it's a little different knowing who you're playing with.

He knows better than most what pressure can do in the final throes of majors, and while he is content with his four-under score, his excitable, inner-chimp is being controlled. Nothing seemed to be working for him - his hitting had suddenly gone wayward and the putts were refusing to go in.

And: "I'm not going to lie. I just saw the line". The three-putt at the 13th was his second bogey of the day.

"You're only going to ever get to play the first time with him once, and that was mine", Knox said. "I enjoy playing in the big moments". He's Tiger Woods for a reason. "He hit some incredible shots and just picked his way around the course well".

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