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Woods and Singh surge to the top

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Tiger Woods hit his stride early with three birdies through five holes and a collection of par saves that kept his round going. Vijay Singh came to life late with an eagle-birdie flurry to rescue an otherwise shaky round.

It left them atop the leaderboard on a chilly Friday at the Wachovia Championship, setting up the possibility of a showdown so desperately missing at the majors, at a tournament that has all the trappings of a major.

Woods missed birdie putts of 3 feet and 6 feet, and he finally dropped a shot on the final hole by hitting into the pine trees left of ninth fairway and settled for a 4-under 68. Playing in the group behind, Singh played his final three holes in 3 under for a 71.

They were at 6-under 138 and tied for the lead among early starters at Quail Hollow, happy to be in the clubhouse as rain threatened.

"I've got to go fix a few things," said Woods, who hit only five fairways and twice swatted his bag with the handle of his driver after watching tee shots sail into the trees. "I'm very pleased with my score. I felt I pretty much have maximized my rounds."

First-round leader Padraig Harrington took three quick bogeys at the start of his round and was spiraling down the leaderboard in the afternoon, while Jason Bohn, Carl Petterson and Ted Purdy took turns trying to join Woods and Singh at the top.

Ken Duke, the Nationwide Tour player of the year in 2006, had a second straight 70 and was at 140.

Phil Mickelson hit only one fairway on his front nine and traded birdies with bogeys on his way to a 71, which left him in the group at 141 along with Stewart Cink (71) and Anthony Kim (69). Jeff Maggert challenged for the lead until he found the water twice on the final two holes, taking double bogey on the 17th and bogey on the 18th. He shot 74 and was at 2-under 142.

In only its fifth year, the Wachovia Championship already is considered one of the premier stops on the PGA Tour because of the demanding test at Quail Hollow, which has tight, tree-lined fairways of a U.S. Open and severely sloped greens that cause players to aim away from some flags, as they would at the Masters.

Michael Jordan played Woods in the pro-am earlier this week, adding some sizzle to a steamy day. Now, the thought of Woods and Singh dueling on the weekend is equally enticing.

They haven't been in contention at the same tournament on the weekend since the Deutsche Bank Championship last September outside Boston, where Woods overcame a three-shot deficit with an 8-under 63 in the final round to win by two.

But they were only halfway through the tournament, and Woods hardly looked invincible.

Even with temperatures in the 50s, Woods stayed on the practice range with swing coach Hank Haney for nearly two hours, trying to sort out a swing that made him rely too much on the putter.

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