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Woods a contender after 2nd-round 66

Tiger Woods, Tee, Round 2
Gail Burton/AP
Woods had six birdies and two bogeys in his round of four-under 66.

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — There's no running away from Tiger Woods, especially when he's the host of the tournament.

The world's top golfer was 11 strokes off the lead at one point Friday and flirted with missing the cut before a birdie-birdie-birdie finish. Yet the galleries followed him with a passion, thanking him for choosing the Washington area to stage an event with his name on it.

The other golfers paid attention, too. They know that as long as Woods is in the field, he can win. He finished with a second-round 66 — tying for best round of the day — and was six strokes off the lead at the midpoint of the AT&T National.

"He does it all the time," said Billy Andrade, who was tied for third after back-to-back 68s. "He's obviously the best, and he always comes back. He's always there even when you don't think he's there. He's around, and he's going to be lurking again. He'll be right there at the end."

The co-leaders were Stuart Appleby and K.J. Choi, who somewhat tamed the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club with scores of 66 and 67 in the first two rounds. Craig Kanada, Robert Garrigus and Andrade were three shots off the pace at 4-under 136.

"You can look at it one way or the other and say, 'Well, Tiger Woods is chasing somebody or chasing us down or chasing me down,"' Appleby said. "Or you can turn around and go, 'Well, I expected him to and that's just the way it is' — and that makes you concentrate more on your own game."

For Woods, the turnaround from a miserable 73 on Thursday was stark. He made only two bogeys instead of seven. He needed only 25 putts instead of 34. He didn't have a single three-putt. He made six putts longer than 8 feet — including a 22-footer at No. 12 — after missing everything from 8 feet and beyond the day before.

His secret? He put some lead tape on his putter, forcing him to put more oomph in his stroke after leaving so many putts short well short of the hole in his first round.

"Made it a little bit heavier," Woods said, "because the greens were a touch on the slow side."

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