Golf: Tiger keeps Doral lead with 2-round best of 17 birdies

2013-03-09T00:00:00Z Golf: Tiger keeps Doral lead with 2-round best of 17 birdiesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

DORAL, Fla. - Tiger Woods struggled on the range, and he didn't feel much better two holes into his second round Friday at the Cadillac Championship. He wouldn't have guessed this would be the day to set a personal record for birdies, much less wind up with a two-shot lead.

"All I need is one shot," he said. "And as soon as I feel it on one, I can pretty much carry through. And I did that."

It was a 4-iron on the par-3 fourth hole, the toughest on the Blue Monster, the nickname for Doral.

Woods hit a bullet with a slight fade at the left edge of the green and heard the crowd cheer as the slope and the grain took the ball to within 4 feet for birdie.

And just like that, he was on his way.

In a World Golf Championship with the biggest names in the hunt, Woods ran off six birdies in an eight-hole stretch around the turn in a clean, crisp exhibition. That sent him to a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead over former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.

Woods has made 17 birdies in two rounds, his most ever on the PGA Tour, though that wasn't the most important number. "It left me a two-shot lead," he said.

He was at 13-under 131, his lowest 36-hole score on tour since the 2009 AT&T National.

Woods followed that 4-iron with a wedge he stuffed to inside 2 feet. He added a collection of 10- to 15-foot birdie putts, and ended his big run with another 4-iron with a different shape, this one high and soft to 15 feet on the 224-yard 13th hole. Those par 3s ranked as the two toughest at Doral on Friday, and he birdied them both.

A birdie-birdie finish by McDowell gave him a 67 and prevented a dream final group for the weekend at Doral - Woods and longtime nemesis Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson, sparked by a visit to Augusta National earlier in the week, hit a 9-iron that stopped inches from dropping for an ace on the par-3 ninth. He had a 67 and was three shots behind, along with Steve Stricker (67).

Rory McIlroy showed signs of turning the corner with a 69, although he ended with a sloppy three-putt bogey. It was his first round under par this year. The world's No. 1 player was still 11 shots behind Woods.

Woods, who once owned these WGCs, has not won the last 10 he's played. But after a key putting tip from Stricker on Wednesday, Woods looks as comfortable as ever on a Blue Monster course where he has three wins.

"It's going to be tough to catch him," Stricker said. "We all know when he gets out in front, he's tough to catch and tough to beat. Looks like he's playing well. Looks like all parts of his game are working."

PGA Tour

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico - Andres Romero shot his second straight 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Scott Brown in the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open.

Romero, of Argentina, had a double bogey on the par-3 eighth hole, then birdied six of the last 10 holes on the Trump International course Friday. Returning to a center-shafted putter, he has made 16 birdies and an eagle in the first 36 holes. Brown was second after a 63. He holed out from 170 yards for eagle on the par-4 seventh.

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