Bahamas, December 2: Tiger Woods made up for lost time by taking the lead on his comeback at the Hero World Challenge before Charley Hoffman opened up a three-shot advantage at the halfway mark.
Woods, playing his first competitive event for 10 months after recovering from a fourth back operation, raised hopes of a sensational victory as he rolled back the years on the front nine at the Albany Golf Course in New Providence.
The 14-time major champion said he was "winging it" ahead of his latest comeback, but he was soaring in the Bahamas on Friday courtesy of a brilliant start to his second round.
Woods hit the turn in 31 following an eagle-three at the ninth, which gave him the outright lead on eight under after three birdies in the opening four holes enabled him to go level with Tommy Fleetwood at the top.
The former world number one, whose last win was in 2013, was unable to maintain those high standards on the back nine, dropping shots at the 12th and the 18th after a fourth birdie of the day at 11.
Tournament host Woods signed for a four-under 68 after starting with a 69 and sits in a share of fifth place on seven under, five shots adrift of leader Hoffman.
The 41-year-old Woods started with a birdie after an excellent approach shot and was the joint leader following a third early birdie at the fourth, where he almost holed his second shot.
A booming drive and magnificent second shot with a three wood set up an eagle at the ninth, a superb putt from inside 18 feet giving him a three - and the outright lead.
Another birdie at 11 put him on nine under, but he three-putted for bogey at the next and dropped another shot after missing a putt for par at the last, having threatened to go into the weekend in front.
Hoffman is the man to catch, the American carding a magnificent nine-under 63 which included 12 birdies to get to 12 under.
Jordan Spieth is well poised three shots off the lead following a five-under 67 to go level with overnight leader Fleetwood - who had to settle for a three-under 69.
Justin Rose and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama are in the mix on eight under and seven under respectively.