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"'Guys, you've got a six-foot putt, it doesn't break as much as you think.' Just stuff like this that they don't have to say".

Sam Saunders was one of the players yet to complete his second round and he was on seven under with McDowell and fellow American Cantlay after 15 holes of his second round.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy signed off for a 69, in which he hit five birdies and three bogeys, to leave him on two under. Seemingly whenever Woods took one step forward with a birdie (his eight birdies over two rounds put him T-14 in the field), he'd immediately respond with a bogey. He is now No. 550.

McDowell, who shared the overnight lead with Cantlay, carded a one-under par 70.

Saunders is also at seven under, albeit he still has three shots remaining in his second round after darkness brought play to a halt. Starting on the reachable par-4 10th, where one mistake can lead to big numbers, Woods played it perfectly with an iron to the far left of the fairway for the best angle into the green, a wedge to just under 10 feet and a birdie. Today I just played good golf.

Woods last played the PGA Tour event at PGA National in 2014, a month before his first back surgery.

But in 11 prior appearances he has never won here, and he hadn't teed it up on the classic course west of downtown Los Angeles since 2006.

This result follows a T-23 finish at Torrey Pines three weeks ago.

His lament was two mistakes from the fairway — a wedge into No. 3 that went too long and over the green, taking away a good birdie chance; and pulling his approach on the seventh hole that went into a deep swale.

"My wedge game is fine", Woods said.

But it's tiring. I need a couple of Advil.

McIlroy and Woods then mixed the sublime with the frustrating for the rest of the day.

"He's very close", McIlroy said. "Give him a little bit of time". Woods did not look out of place alongside McIlroy and the USPGA champion Justin Thomas, but simply a golfer in search of rhythm.

Earlier Friday afternoon, he committed to next week's Honda Classic, his first time playing back-to-back tournaments since before last year's surgery and first time doing so on the PGA Tour since August 2015.