AFP, HARRISON, New York
KJ Choi fired a 66 to take a two shot lead after the second round of the US$7 million Barclays tournament on Friday.
The 37-year-old South Korean star shot 64 on Thursday and has now rolled in 12 birdies over the first two rounds to reach a 12-under 130 at the Westchester Country Club course.
American Rich Beem is second, two shots adrift of Choi. American Steve Stricker, South African Rory Sabbatini and Australian Geoff Ogilvy were tied for third, four strokes back.
Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are part of a group of seven who are five shots off the lead.
Choi needed just 54 putts in the first two rounds, including 26 during a superb opening performance.
Choi is in the midst of a breakthrough season thanks to an improved putter which he paid US$49 for after watching a commercial for the club with the unique grip on the Golf Channel two years ago. He has turned that US$49 investment into two tour wins this year and millions of dollars in prize money.
"There was something about my game, my putting ... something missing," he said. "I thought it made sense, so I picked up the phone and I ordered it and it came. It did look ridiculously big."
Choi is involved with two charities in his homeland and is admired on the PGA Tour for giving a sizeable portion of his winnings to help others. He donated one-tenth of the US$900,000 he won in Greensboro in 2005 to the Korean Presbyterian Church.
Oh, Gustafson lead the way
South Korean rookie Oh Ji-young and Sweden's Sophie Gustafson soared to the top of the leaderboard by posting identical six-under 66s after the opening round of the LPGA Safeway Classic on Friday.
Mexico's Lorena Ochoa is one stroke back and is looking for her third straight win at the US$1.7 million event.
The 19-year-old Oh shot a personal best six-under 66 at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club course.
"My driver was very good," Oh said. "And my putter. I had seven birdies today so that was very good. It is the first time I have shot a 66."
Gustafson, who is seeking her first win this year, rolled in five birdies including two in the first four holes.
"It was solid, and for the first time in a long time I felt comfortable with my putter, and that helped," Gustafson said.