Both took a step in that direction Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
McIlroy went from one extreme to another on par 5s just 30 minutes apart <0x2014> a 4-iron into 10 feet for eagle on No. 18, a 5-wood in the water for bogey on No. 2 <0x2014> but steadied himself for another 6-under 65.
Woods, playing in the afternoon, had three birdies on the opening six holes until he could no longer get a putt to drop. He made birdie putts of 30 feet and 15 feet late in the round to salvage a 68, which left him only two shots behind.
In between was Louis Oosthuizen, the former British Open champion with one of the purest swings in golf. Oosthuizen had four 2s on his card of 65, and goes into the third round just one shot behind and in the final group with McIlroy.
“Everything seemed to work pretty well out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I drove the ball a bit better today and hit more fairways, which gave me some more opportunities to make birdies. And I was putting well enough to take a few of those. Yeah, pleased with where I am and looking forward to the weekend.”
The weekend is half over, as this FedEx Cup playoff event is known for its Labor Day finish. There remains plenty of work to be done, especially with nine players separated by only three shots going into the weekend.
McIlroy was at 12-under 130.
Ryan Moore had a 68, playing the front nine in 1 over, and joined Woods at 10-under 132.
Rickie Fowler made a clutch putt on his final hole, a 4-footer for par that gave him a 72. It looked even more significant at the time because it assured he would make the cut, giving him two more days to make an impression on Davis Love III before he announces his four captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup on Tuesday.
Hunter Mahan had a 72 to end his untimely streak of two missed cuts, boosting his hopes of getting one of the four picks. Dustin Johnson also stayed in the mix, going into the weekend only five shots out of the lead. Brandt Snedeker had only three pars in 12 holes, then settled down for a 70 and was at 3-under 139.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Crans-Sur-Sierre, Switzerland, Richie Ramsay thrived in the cold and wet Swiss Alps, shooting 7-under-par 64 for a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the European Masters.
Ramsay had six birdies and didn’t drop a shot. He finished at 11-under, one shot ahead of Paul Lawrie (67) and Danny Willett (68).
“It was a nice and steady round,” said the 29-year-old Ramsay.
Overnight leader Julien Quesne was another shot back after 70.
WEB.COM TOUR: In Canonsburg, Pa., Aiken’s Kevin Kisner tied for the low round of the day and moved into contention in the Mylan Classic.
Kisner shot 5-under-par 66 and is at 10-under 203, or two shots behind leader Cliff Kresge, who had 70.
Three golfers – including former Georgia Tech star Nicholas Thompson – are one shot back.
Thompson, who had 68, is joined at 202 by Rob Streb (69 and Brad Fritsch (72).