Sun, Jul 06, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Woods leads in Western

AP , LEMONT, ILLINOIS

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the Western Open at Cog Hills Golf Club in Lemont, Illinois, on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Tiger Woods got off to the kind of start that puts records in danger. By the end of the round, he was barely hanging on.

After birdies on three of his first five holes, Woods struggled to play the rest of his round at 1-over par, scratching out a 70 Friday. But with his competition falling off one by one, that was good enough to keep him in the lead at the 100th Western Open.

"If I would have played better and still shot this number, I would have been pretty hot," Woods said.

Woods was at 11-under 133 for the tournament. Robert Allenby, who won the tournament in 2000, was three strokes back after shooting a 5-under 67 on Friday.

Robert Damron (69), Mike Weir (70) and Heath Slocum (70) were four back.

Vance Veazey, who began the day one shot behind Woods, had a round so up-and-down he had to be dizzy by the time it was over. He had bogeys on four of his first five holes, then four straight birdies to get to 10 under.

But he gave back five shots over his last seven holes, including a double-bogey on 18 after going into the water.

He finished at 75, and was six strokes behind Woods.

Woods tied a course and tournament record with a 63 in the first round Thursday, a resounding answer to all those who say he's in a slump. And he looked as if he might go even lower Friday.

He got a 1-footer for birdie on the first hole, then made a 15-footer on the third. After two-putting from 30 feet on the par-5 5th, he was at 12-under and looking as if he was going to have a round as hot and steamy as the temperatures at Cog Hill's Dubsdread course.

Woods' troubles started on No. 7, when he pushed his drive so far right the ball wound up buried in a clump of trees behind the cart path.

Woods was clearly irked, taking a swing at his bag when he reached the trees. He took a drop, then put that shot on the lip of a greenside bunker. He managed to escape with only a bogey, and got the stroke back with a birdie on the par-5 9th.

At least he finished well. He got off to a disastrous start on the 18th, putting his drive against the top lip of a bunker. He blasted out to the fairway, then hit a wedge to about 10 feet. It was a tough par putt, too, with plenty of break. But he rolled it right into the cup, and Woods broke into a wide grin, taking a batting-practice swing with his club.

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