Aug 1 (Reuters) - Englishman Justin Rose found his putting touch in time to take the lead during the second round at the $9 million WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio on Friday.
Rose struggled to read the greens early but had few complaints after a three-under-par 67 at Firestone Country Club.
He recorded an eight-under 132 halfway total, one stroke ahead of Australian Marc Leishman (69) and two in front of American Rickie Fowler with half the 76-man field still on the course.
Tiger Woods drove poorly but eked out a 71 to trail by seven shots on a course where he has won a record seven times.
Rose, who hit 16 greens in regulation, described his round as a “stark contrast” to his opening 65.
”Yesterday I scrambled it around and made everything,“ the world number four told Golf Channel. ”Today I hit it much closer to the hole, gave myself plenty of looks and didn’t make as many.
”Early on I just wasn’t seeing the breaks very well. I began to putt much better on the back nine.
“I had the opportunity to shoot a low one today but all in all it was a nice step forward the way I felt with my long game.”
First round leader Leishman had a “scare” at the first hole when his approach shot to four feet set up a likely birdie, only to three-putt for a bogey.
“After that I holed a few good putts,” said the world number 51, who is coming off a tie for fifth at the British Open.
“I feel like I‘m playing well. It is a tough course. If you’re not hitting good shots, you can make bogeys pretty good, as I showed out there today.”
Woods, in just his third event since March back surgery, was not exactly a model of accuracy off the tee at a course with plenty of rough waiting to gobble up errant shots.
The defending champion scrambled well at times, though the par-four ninth (his 18th) was not one of those occasions. After driving into the right rough, Woods tried to get home with a five-wood, only to slice the ball into another poor lie 40 yards short of the hole, from where he bogeyed. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Editing by Gene Cherry)