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Phil, Tiger and Vijay move into contention

Photo: J. Rogash/Getty Images

Tiger Woods shot a seven-under 64.

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Phil Mickelson played an eight-hole stretch in 7 under par. Right about the time he was cooling off, Tiger Woods played six straight holes in 6 under par.

Filling out the "Big Three" was Vijay Singh, who had his best round in a month and was bringing up the rear.

The glamour group at the Deutsche Bank Championship lived up to expectations Saturday. One day after they combined to go 3 over par in the opening round, they were a combined 19 under in swirling conditions at TPC Boston.

Woods and Mickelson each had a 64. Singh, in danger of missing three straight cuts for the first time in his career, had a 66.

"We all made some putts and got it going," Woods said. "When you get in those groups, when you all feed off one another, when you're all going low, all making birdies, those are fun pairings to get involved in."

Mickelson was the first to get going, chipping in for birdie on the 15th and for eagle on the 18th, sprinkling in birdies at No. 16 and No. 1, then hitting a flop shot over a mound on the par-5 second that spun back to 3 feet for another birdie.

"I was 7 under through eight holes, and that kind of was the round for me," said Mickelson, who was at 8-under 134.

He was six shots ahead of Woods after 11 holes when Woods took off. After a 15-foot birdie on the third, Woods drove the 298-yard fourth green and holed the 35-foot eagle putt, then added birdies on the sixth and seventh holes. He wound up at 6-under 136.

"I just needed to make a few more birdies, and all of a sudden I caught fire on the back nine," Woods said. "I think I went 6 under through six, and that basically got me back into the tournament."

Singh was at 3 over for the tournament until running off four straight birdies around the turn.

"We were more into it today," Singh said. "That was more how we thought we'd play."

It was the first time on the PGA Tour they played together, courtesy of a PGA Tour Playoffs system that groups players in the first two rounds according to their standing in the points list. Woods was No. 4, Mickelson No. 5 and Singh No. 6.

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REGULAR RICH: Rich Beem lives the good life on the PGA Tour, playing the best courses with the best players, taking part in pro-ams with the rich and famous. But he still enjoys going back to his roots — a municipal golf course, a few beers, lots of laughs.

Beem was having lunch with his caddie, Billy Heim, on Monday in Rhode Island when he mentioned he was going to play golf and the waitress recommended a course in Providence called Triggs, an old Donald Ross design.

"I played with two police officers from Rhode Island," Beem said. "They had their day off. They finished playing golf, but I don't know how. They were really enjoying their day off."

This wasn't the first time Beem has gone from TPCs to municipal tracks. He was asked if he would pay $400 to play Pebble Beach.

"Oh, God, no," Beem said. "But I'd pay $15 to play El Dump-o-rama down the street with the bowl-shaped greens and the bunkers that haven't been raked in four years. Absolutely. That's fun. That's fun golf. We play these beautiful courses all the time, but what's wrong with going out and playing fun golf now and then, shooting whatever, play in your bare feet."

Heim is more than just a caddie. He lost in the final match of the 1987 U.S. Junior Amateur to Brett Quigley, who happened to play with Beem the first two rounds of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

How does a former PGA champion wind up on a municipal golf course?

"I'm just another guy who took a day off of a work and went to go play golf," he said. "Is that so bad?"

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LOVE HURTS: Davis Love III left the TPC Boston with nowhere to play the next two weeks.

Headed toward the worst season of his career, Love needed at least a top-10 finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship to advance to the third round of the playoffs.

But he missed the cut with rounds of 75-70, and will not be at the Tour Championship for the first time since 1994.

It is not clear how often Love will play in the Fall Series, if at all. Those are seven events that start the week after the Tour Championship and are designed for those trying to finish in the top 125 to keep their cards. That won't be a problem, as Love already has earned more than $1 million.

His worst season as a pro was his rookie year in 1986 when he finished 77th on the money list. Love started this week at No. 78.

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EARLY DEPARTURES: David Toms was No. 27 in the playoff standings going into the Deutsche Bank Championship, and now he'll be scrambling next week to get into the Tour Championship. Toms opened with a 75 and was 6 over for the tournament after nine holes Saturday when he withdrew with a back injury.

That will put him around No. 30 going to the BMW Championship outside Chicago.

Stephen Leaney also withdrew after nine holes (5 over) with a wrist injury. Fred Funk (76) and J.P. Hayes (79) withdrew without starting the second round. Those three were outside the top 70 and saw their FedEx Cup season end.

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