Tiger Woods reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational on Friday. Photo: David Dermer/AP

LOS ANGELES – Tiger Woods said he’ll need a low round on Saturday to keep himself in the hunt for a ninth career title at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

The 14-time major champion fired a second-round 68 on Friday to be five strokes off the lead shared by Tommy Fleetwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Thomas.

“I’m going to have to,” Woods said of picking up the scoring pace in the third round. 

“The golf course is playing very soft, very receptive and when you’re able to hit five-irons and they only roll out about a foot, the guys are going to put up good scores.

“There’s 40-plus guys under par,” he added. “That’s never the case here at Firestone.

“So, tomorrow’s (Saturday) going to be one of those days I’m going to have to go out there and post a low one, and see what happens.”

Woods shook off an opening bogey with birdies at three of his next four holes at the Firestone Country Club course.

He added another birdie at the par-three 12th, where he stuck his tee shot within two feet for a tap-in birdie that moved him to seven-under for the tournament.

He gave a stroke back at 14, however, after his approach settled in the rough on the edge of a bunker and his chip shot went through the green. Woods hit only seven of 14 fairways in regulation and 13 of 18 greens.

But he said his game felt better than it had on Thursday when he carded a 66. “I just didn’t hit the putts hard enough,” he said. “I felt a little bit more sharp, or a little bit more so than I did yesterday.”

Woods is seeking his first victory since the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational. Since then, he has been hampered by the back trouble that led to spinal fusion surgery in April of 2017.

He started his 2018 comeback season outside the top 500 in the world rankings, moving to 50th – and securing his berth in this week’s elite World Golf Championships event – with his share of sixth place at the British Open.