Saturday, July 04, 2009

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Tiger Woods finished signing for the lowest 36-hole score ever at Congressional Country Club and was met by a couple of AT&T National officials wanting to know his plans for the afternoon.

``I'm done,'' Woods said, indicating that he would not be going to the practice range.

The question is whether the 75 other players remaining at Congressional feel the same way.

Woods took a share of the lead with a 3-iron into the par-5 16th green for a two-putt birdie, kept his momentum by playing his five worst holes in 1 under, then finished off a 4-under 66 to build a one-shot lead going into the weekend.

He was at 10-under 130, breaking by one shot the 36-hole score set last year by Tom Pernice Jr. and Jeff Overton. And while he had only a one-shot lead over Rod Pampling (64) halfway through his tournament, history is on his side.

Woods has a 31-6 record on the PGA Tour when he has at least a share of the 36-hole lead, winning the last 11 times dating to the Byron Nelson Championship more than five years ago.

Pampling has been around Woods enough not to lose sleep over this. The scrappy Australian has played numerous practice rounds at dawn in the majors with Woods, so nothing surprises him.

``He can be playing great and then you really don't have a lot of chance of beating him,'' Pampling said. ``And then he's just playing so-so and he's still right there with a chance to win coming down the last nine holes. He's just amazing how consistent he is.''

On the other end of the spectrum was Anthony Kim.

He couldn't get to the range fast enough.

Kim opened this tournament with a course-record 62, and with a couple of birdies early in the second round Friday afternoon, he caught Woods atop the leaderboard at 10 under.

But it wasn't long before Kim started missing fairways, missing greens, missing putts. He slowly fell back, needing a hard-earned birdie on the 16th and a 5-footer for par on his final hole to salvage a 70 that put him alone in third.

``I hate the way I hit the ball today,'' he said. ``Obviously, I didn't drive it the way I wanted to and like I did yesterday. So it was a rough day, but I'm glad I got through it, and now I have to go work on it and see what I can figure out.''

Jim Furyk had a 67 and was alone in fourth, while U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover ran off four straight birdies on his way to a 66 that helped him get back into the hunt at 5-under 135.

Woods couldn't figure out his swing for a short spell in the second round.

That's when he was at his best.

After tying for the lead with that two-putt birdie at the 16th, this is a snapshot of his next five holes, when he could have easily slipped back into the pack chasing Kim.

He twice hit into the rough and was unable to reach the green. Another tee shot rode the wind into a fairway bunker. He pulled his tee shot on the par-3 second hole on the side of a mound, the wrong side of the pin to miss. And from the middle of the fairway, he came down too steep and sailed his shot to the right, into a hollow of rough.

Woods played those holes in 1-under par.

He steadied himself with pars until hitting a soft sand wedge that skipped to a stop about 2 feet from the hole at No. 8 for one last birdie, and was off to the start he wanted as the ``greedy host.''

``That's why the guy is at such a high level,'' Glover said after playing two days with Woods. ``When things are going bad, he can rely on his short game. He just doesn't waste any shots. If he's losing shots, it's because of a bad break or a bad lie.''

Despite the five birdies, Woods recognized that five-hole stretch as the key to his round.

``That's how you keep yourself in a golf tournament,'' Woods said. ``I made a couple of big putts - 17, 18, good up-and-down on 2 - and it kept me going. I played well early, and it's all about keeping your momentum.''

He can only hope the momentum carries into the weekend, where Woods will have a chance to win for the third time this year and move atop the FedEx Cup standings for the first time this season.

This is his final tuneup before the British Open, and Woods won his previous two tournaments before majors, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

It would be a peculiar hat trick if he were to win all three PGA Tour events where the host is a player - in this case, himself.

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