I’m back, baby! (At least I hope, I am...) (Rob Griffith/AP)

On Friday, the world’s 58th-ranked player followed up his first bogey-free round in nine months with a 5-under par 67. Woods will go into Saturday’s third round atop the leader board with a one-stroke lead over Peter O’Malley.

■ Leader board: Australian Open

An impressive birdie on the par-5 eighth hole at The Lakes had playing partner Robert Allenby seeing visions of vintage Tiger.

“Probably in the last six months, that’s the best I’ve seen him play,” Allenby said after the round. “I’ve seen him at his absolute best ... that was a different human being. He’s on his way back, that’s for sure.”

But while Woods seemed to enjoy chiding reporters for writing him off, he said he felt Friday’s round could have been even better.

“It felt it could have been 8 or 9 deep,” he said.

Woods last lead a tournament after the third round in the Chevron World Challenge last year and hasn’t led a full field since the Australian Masters. (Could Oz be Tiger’s magic elixir?)

“It feels good,” Woods said of being on top of the heap for a change. “It feels good to be there playing properly.”