Tiger Woods is on fire at the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods is on fire at the Tour Championship.

Vintage Tiger shares lead, Aussies fizzle at Tour Championship

TIGER Woods pulled off a series of great escapes to earn his first 36-hole lead in three years, despite a poor ball-striking performance on day two at the Tour Championship.

A day after a red-hot Woods posted a five-under-par 65 at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club, he found himself constantly escaping from the trees but managed a 68 to maintain a share of the halfway lead at seven under.

Justin Rose (67) is tied with Woods, while four-time major winner Rory McIlroy (68) is solo in third at five under.

Woods hit just seven of 14 fairways in the second round  and only 11 of 18 greens, his tee-to-green woes epitomised by a double-bogey six at the par-foure 16th hole and a three-putt bogey at the ninth.

But two-time Tour Championship winner Woods took his opportunities when they came and converted five birdies, while saving par five times from the seven greens he missed.

The 14-time major winner said grinding out a score to grab his first halfway lead since the 2015 Wyndham Championship was inspiring.

"Rounds like today are hard, mentally, because you have to grind it out," Woods said.

"You're not quite as sharp - it's easy to shoot low scores when you're sharp.

"It's a little bit more difficult to post a low number when I'm off and I was able to do that and I kept myself in the tournament."

Although Woods has ignited hopes of capping his injury comeback season with a storybook 80th US Tour victory, he insisted there was a long way to go.

"Well, I need to get there first, and that's my responsibility to get there," Woods said.

"I've got 36 more holes to go, but hopefully I'll be answering that question come Sunday night."

Australia's Jason Day dropped three shots during a 73 that left him at one-over the card at the FedEx Cup playoffs finale.

Fellow Aussie Marc Leishman is a shot further back after a one-under 69, while Cameron Smith has fallen to three over in matching Day's 73.

But as the leading Australian at 10th on the FedEx standings, Smith vowed to turn it around and earn a sizeable FedEx bonus payday.

"I just couldn't hit the fairway or make a single putt, it seemed," Smith said.

"I actually feel really comfortable with my irons and wedges and I know I can shoot two more good rounds."

The Tour Championship is the finale of the $US67-million FedEx Cup playoffs, where the leading points scorer pockets a $US10 million bonus.