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Woods a contender after 2nd-round 66

The putter was in the bag, though, when Woods was in trouble at the long par-4 sixth, a hole that plays as a par 5 for the club's members. He had to lay up after putting his tee shot in the heavy rough, then botched his third shot by hitting the ball over the green.

Then, standing at the bottom of a steep slope, he bailed himself out with a flop shot to 6 feet and got away with a bogey.

"The flop shot was actually just pure luck," he said. "I was just trying to get it on the green and it just happened to stay up on the top shelf. I didn't want to have that go to waste by missing a makable putt, and I was grinding pretty hard on that putt to make it. Knocked it in — and birdied the last three."

At the final hole, the gallery got the payoff it had been wanting. After two days of stone-faced club-tossing over bad shots, Woods waved to the crowd with a nod of satisfaction after his 14-foot birdie putt.

"I was just trying to get myself back in the tournament. I didn't know what the cut was going to be," Woods said. "I was just trying to get to even par, 1-under par."

The course was expected to play tougher over the weekend as the temperature settled into the 90s, firming up the fairways and greens. It was already tough enough for top-five players Phil Mickelson (147) and Adam Scott (148), both on the wrong side of the 4-over 144 cut line.

Mickelson, coming off a layoff due to a wrist injury, was doomed by a 7 at the par-5 16th, where he had to call in a rules official after back-to-back shots: one that landed against a tree and a chain-link fence, and another that landed by a golf cart tire. Carts were aplenty on the hole as part of the Secret Service contingent following Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Guys have won majors after missing the cut," Mickelson said. "You can find it overnight, but I knew that coming in here I was a little rusty."

Divots: Woods has seven career victories when trailing by six strokes or more after 36 holes. ... Mickelson has missed back-to-back cuts for the first time since 2002. He also withdrew from last month's Memorial, which means he has failed to play the weekend for three straight tournaments for the first time since 1995. ... Shaun Micheel withdrew after the ninth hole. He had surgery on his right foot several years ago and aggravated the injury Friday. ... Mike Weir also shot a 66 Friday and is five shots off the lead.

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