Hero World Challenge 2018: Jon Rahm, Henrik Stenson nose ahead

Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson rest on a one-stroke cushion at 10-under 134. Tenacious Tiger Woods cards 69.

Jon Rahm climbed nine places in the leaderboard. Photo: Special Arrangement

In a mix dominated by the Americans, the victorious European Ryder Cup duo of Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson nosed ahead in style. But the talking point, as almost always, was Tiger Woods — his bounce-back round ended with a dampening double-bogey and rules rescued him from a possible one-stroke penalty.

Read | Tiger Woods escapes one-stroke penalty

Following all the drama leading to the halfway stage of the USD 3.5 million Hero World Challenge here, Rahm and Stenson rested on a one-stroke cushion at 10-under 134. As things stand, riding on a nine-under 63, Spain’s Rahm climbed nine places on the leaderboard to be with Sweden’s Stenson, up two places following a 66. They led Dustin Johnson (67) and Patrick Cantlay (70) by a shot. Unlike Cantlay, the other overnight leader Patrick Reed tumbled 13 places after a 77.

Tony Finau, who briefly joined the leaders during his round of 64, jumped eight places, just ahead of Gary Westland who gained seven spots to be tied sixth, following a 66.

Henrik Stenson carded a 66 in the second round. Photo: Special Arrangement

Tiger, riding on five birdies to be tied fifth, dumped his 5-wood tee-shot on the 18th into the palm bushes. He then appeared to have double-hit the ball as he chipped on to the fairway and eventually double-bogeyed for a 69. Later, Tiger admitted to have inadvertently hit the ball twice, a fact reinforced by the super slow-motion television replays.

Read | First-round report

Since the rules stipulate that a player is not deemed to have committed a violation if could not be seen with the naked eye, Tiger was not penalised.

Rahm on fire

Coming back to the leaders, Rahm was on fire as he birdied half the holes during the bogey-free round while Stenson responded with seven birdies against a bogey on the 11th. Talking about his second-best round ever, the long-hitting Spaniard said, “I hit it so solid off the tee. Besides that, I followed it with some good iron play. On five par-5s and two relatively short par-4s, I got six birdies out of the nine. So I capitalised on the easier holes today and played really good.”

Stenson, a two-time runner-up here, showed no signs of discomfort having battled tendonitis in his left elbow. “Since the Ryder Cup, I’ve had an injury problem, so I was out of for five weeks. But I’m feeling pretty good. Putting and short-game [have] been really solid these first couple of days,” the Swede reaffirmed.

(The writer is in Nassau at the invitation of Hero MotoCorp)

The scores (Americans unless stated)
  • 134 - Jon Rahm (Esp) (71, 63); Henrik Stenson (Swe, 68, 66);
  • 135 - Dustin Johnson (68, 67), Patrick Cantley (65, 70);
  • 136 - Tony Finau (72, 64);
  • 138 - Gary Woodland (72, 66), Alex Noren (Swe, 69, 69);
  • 139 - Rickie Fowler (72, 67);
  • 140 - Keegan Bradley (71, 69), Justin Rose (Eng, 70, 70), Justin Thomas (70, 70);
  • 141 - Xander Schauffele (73, 68), Bryson DeChambeau (70, 71);
  • 142 - Tiger Woods (73, 69), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn, 74, 68), Bubba Watson (69, 73), Patrick Reed (65, 77);
  • 143 - Jason Day (Aus, 71, 72).