Def. champ Smith leads Leishman and McLeod at Australian PGA

GOLD COAST, Australia – Defending champion Cameron Smith held a one-stroke lead over Marc Leishman and fellow Australian Jake McLeod after the second round of the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on Friday.

Smith shot a 7-under 65 for a two-round total of 9-under 135. Leishman, Smith’s teammate last week at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, had his second consecutive 68 while McLeod, a co-leader after the first round, shot 70.

Full-field scores from the Australian PGA Championship

Harold Varner III, who won the tournament in 2016 and has finished second in a playoff and sixth in three Australian PGAs at Royal Pines, shot his second straight 69 and was three strokes behind.

”I think I’m a lot better player right now than I was a couple years ago,” Varner said. ”(The 2016 win) gives me confidence, but it’s in the past. It has nothing to do what’s going to happen this week.”

Tiger traded length for accuracy off the tee with driver tweak

NASSAU, Bahamas – Despite an otherwise pedestrian day that added up to a 1-over 73 on Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, there was a silver lining for Tiger Woods.

For the round, Woods hit 12 of 13 fairways and regularly outdrove Justin Thomas, with whom he was paired on Day 1 at Albany.

“I didn’t quite feel comfortable with my game today even though I drove it great,” said Woods, who is tied for 16th in the 18-man field.

Full-field scores from the Hero World Challenge

Hero World Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Woods’ driving, which had become something of a liability in recent years, was a big part of his success in 2018. At the Tour Championship at East Lake, the site of his 80th PGA Tour victory, he ranked third in fairways hit and gained 1.903 strokes off the tee.

Woods explained on Thursday that the turnaround began after the PGA Championship, when he transitioned to a driver with a different shaft and more loft.

“I went back to my old shaft and we added a bunch of loft, another degree and a half or so from where I was,” Woods said. “I don’t hit the ball anywhere near as far as I did earlier in the year or the summer, but it’s spinnier and the ball’s in play. I’m able to hit the balls in the fairway, but I just don’t have the hot ones like I used to.”

Hero World Challenge Rd. 2 tee times: Woods, Matsuyama out first

The Hero World Challenge, with its 18-man field, repairs after each round. Here’s a look at second-round tee times at Albany.

(All times ET)

11:15 a.m.: Tiger Woods (+1), Hideki Matsuyama (+2)

11:26 a.m.: Rickie Fowler (E), Xander Schauffele (+1)

11:37 a.m.: Tony Finau (E), Gary Woodland (E)

11:48 a.m.: Jon Rahm (-1), Jason Day (-1)

11:59 a.m.: Bryson DeChambeau (-2), Keegan Bradley (-1)

12:10 p.m.: Justin Rose (-2), Justin Thomas (-2)

12:21 p.m.: Alex Noren (-3), Bubba Watson (-3)

12:32 p.m.: Henrik Stenson (-4), Dustin Johnson (-4)

12:43 p.m.: Patrick Cantlay (-7), Patrick Reed (-7)