These days Tiger Woods may be as well known for his birdies off the course as on it, but there was something a little bit special about the six he accumulated yesterday at the TPC Boston. For the first time in a season marked by personal and private blemishes, the world No 1's six beauties were not accompanied by a black mark.
It came at the 39th time of asking but a second round of 65, equalling his best of the season, was no less welcome for that. Tiger started the day in danger of missing the cut in the Deutsche Bank Championship, which in all likelihood would have meant an early exit from the play-offs and the end of his reign as the FedEx Cup holder.
But Woods is back in contention for his first title of the year – seven off the early clubhouse leader, Brandt Snedeker, on 12 under – and boosted his bid for one of Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin's four wild cards, which he announces on Tuesday. "I didn't miss a shot on the first six holes," said Woods. "That was nice."
The Celtic Manor connection extends across the pond, where two of the Europe captain Colin Montgomerie's men – Miguel Angel Jimenez and Edoardo Molinari – will do battle for the European Masters in spectacular Crans-sur-Sierre today.
The Spaniard leads the Italian by three shots on 17 under, with Matteo Manassero, the "next Seve", who has a realistic chance of securing his card for next season in only six events, one further back with Steve Webster.
It could have been a bigger advantage for the 46-year-old Jimenez, who shot a three-under 68, but for a needless rules infraction on the 10th hole. He momentarily forgot that placing was allowed only on the sixth hole and by picking up his ball incurred a one-shot penalty.
"It's a pity," said Jimenez. "I marked it and picked it up like it is preferred lies. Then I thought, 'What are you doing?' But I'm still feeling good. It's very difficult to follow up a really low score [of 61 on Friday]."