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Three tied for Kodak lead

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s a safe bet that for eons the phrase, “I’m just going to knock it through that tree,” had never been uttered by a PGA Tour professional. That changed on Friday at Walt Disney World Resort.

Certain the second-round forward tee at the Magnolia Course’s 17th hole was his best chance to birdie the hole, and tie Troy Merritt at 17 under in the $1 million Kodak Challenge, Rickie Fowler launched his drive onto the uncertain path, pulled it a tad and was rewarded with a short pitch to the green and a 6-foot birdie putt that he calmly rolled into the hole.

Whether the rookie planned to hit his drive through the trees down the left of the hole is uncertain. What isn’t up for debate is the heated race for the $1 million in Kodak cash.

Merritt, who missed a 15 footer for birdie moments after Fowler birdied the 17th, and Fowler are tied with Aaron Baddeley in the season-long race. All three made the cut and will get two more chances to distance themselves. If the tie holds there will be a playoff on the 17th Sunday afternoon, under spotlights if need be, to determine the winner.

“Fifteen feet, downhill, down grain you want to be aggressive but when you need to make the cut and keep your card it’s hard,” said Merritt, who is also 121st on the money list and grinding for his 2011 playing privileges. “It would have been nice to make it but I made the cut and I have two more shots at it.”