Tiger Woods is now tied for the lead at the Valspar Championship in his first appearance at this event. In fact, McIlroy covered his outward run with a run of nine straight pars; but it was a stark contrast on his back nine as he claimed only one birdie to go along with two bogeys and a double-bogey. He took the outright lead on the par-5 fifth hole with another birdie when he climbed to five-under, but gave that shot back with an unfortunate bogey on his final hole of the round.
Henrik Stenson, who played with Spieth and Woods, also shot 74.
Woods struck the flag from 146 yards on his seventh hole but could not convert his birdie putt and eventually made the turn at level par.
Tiger Woods admitted it was "very cool" to watch his old rival Phil Mickelson win the World Golf Championship in Mexico on Sunday and believes it is still possible for the old guard to challenge the younger generation for the major honors.
On the eve of the Valspar Championship, Rory McIlroy announced he felt in such good shape he would be "totally ready for the Masters if it started tomorrow". The whole group got fooled a lot today, a tough day all around.
Woods managed to clear the water as his ball held up in the rough just short of the green, but he pitched to within three feet and rattled in the par putt to the delight of the huge galleries following the former world No 1.
"It was hard again, and when we started it was cold", Woods said.
FacebookPinterestSam GreenwoodTiger's 70 puts him just three strokes off Conners lead through 18 holes
"Kind of had a mindset of trying to take advantage of a good break, I guess", he said.
The last time Woods had led a PGA Tour event came during the third round of the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
The 14-time major victor is preparing for his fifth start of the season at the Valspar Championship on Thursday after previous finishes of ninth, 23rd, a missed cut at the Genesis Open and 12th at the Honda Classic last time out.
"I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these subtle tweaks".
"I'm not going to put it out of the realm if Freddie feels good, he's still in he mix".
As a Tiger homer, and someone who has continuously said that Tiger isn't done yet even through all the questions regarding his health, this pleases me greatly.
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