De-Ja Vu All Over Again

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Here we go again. Just as he did at Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods is threatening to run away with the British Open.
 
Woods, who went to bed trailing Ernie Els by one, stepped on the first tee Friday three strokes back of David Toms, who shot an early-morning 5-under 67 to move into the overall lead at 8-under-par. However, Tiger wasted little time establishing himself in the second round.
 
Woods birdied the 1st hole with a 12-foot putt, tapped in for another birdie at the 4th and nearly holed an eagle putt at the par-5 5th. His second consecutive tap-in gave him three birdies in five holes, and a share of the lead with Toms.
 
Aside from a half-hour wait on the 5th tee, all went according to plan for Woods on Friday. After a birdie at the 9th, Woods drove through the green on the 314-yard par-4 12th. He successfully got up and down for his fifth birdie of the day, then picked up No. 6 at the 14th to move three shots clear of Toms at 11-under. The only time he sniffed bogey was at 'The Road Hole' par-4 17th. Just off the road in two, Woods chipped past the flag, into a sloping backboard and watched as his ball came to rest within eight feet of the hole. He then sank a double-breaking par save and pointed with controlled enthusiasm at the cup. He parred out on 18 to shoot 6-under 66. Through 36 holes, he has yet to record a bogey.
 
'What you try to do in any tournament is not make a mistake,' Woods said. 'Bogeys aren't good for your scorecard.'
 
With a three-stroke lead and 36 holes to play, Woods was asked if he thought the tournament was over. He replied: 'Over? I don't have the trophy sitting next to me.'
 
Nicklaus waves goodbye to the Open ChampionshipAs was the case at the U.S. Open, where he won by 15, Woods began his second round as Jack Nicklaus was finishing his. Nicklaus said prior to the tournament, this would be his final Open appearance. Unfortunately, the three-time champion shot 77-73 to miss the cut. But before he bid adieu, Nicklaus stood on the Swilken Bridge, doffed his cap and waved it to the crowd. After missing a birdie putt on the 18th, the 60-year-old Nicklaus walked arm-and-arm with his son and caddie, Steve, blowing kisses to an appreciative crowd.
 
'St. Andrews always has a special place in my heart,' said Nicklaus, who won at this venue in 1970. 'For 20 years I was in contention almost every year. I will have great memories of playing here and the galleries have always been great to me.'
 
Many players were able to take advantage of the docile Scottish conditions in the second round, however, Els was not one of them. The overnight leader squandered opportunities early. He began his day by missing from six feet for birdie at the 1st. He then lipped out a 12-footer for birdie on the 2nd; and continued by three-putting for bogey at the 3rd.
 
'When you do that, those things really stop your momentum,' said Els. 'I thought I hit the ball well on the range but when I three-putted there I just stepped out of my rhythm a little bit.
 
'Then I three-putted the 9th as well, really from nowhere. I was very concerned about that because I fell back to 4-under and really way out of contention.'
 
Els rescued his round on the back nine with birdies at the 10th and 12th, but he completed his day by parring his final six holes to shoot an even-par 72, and remain at 6-under.
 
'It just wasn't a comfortable day, just one of those funny days,' Els said. 'Today was my bad round. I know I can play better than that over the weekend and I'll do that.'
 
Els is in a five-way tie for 6th with Fred Couples, Thomas Bjorn, Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson was even par for the day, and the tournament, entering the inward half on Friday, but shot a back-nine 30 to climb into contention. The highlight of his day came at the par-4 12th, when he rolled in a 60-foot putt for eagle.
 
Woods will play the third round paired with Toms. In his first Open Championship, the 33-year-old had five birdies in an eight-hole stretch on Friday, beginning at the par-5 5th. Toms has had major success before. He shares the Masters record of 29 on the back nine at Augusta National, which he fired in 1998. He also finished tied for 16th at this year's U.S. Open.
 
'My first goal was to play on the weekend, just to see that experience with all the people out there,' Toms said. 'Now, looking at the whole experience, I guess I was a little cheap over the years and I did not want to spend the money to come over here to qualify.
 
'Looking back, I wish I would have,just to have the opportunity to have played it before. This is totally different. It is fun to see all the shots you can play.'
 
One shot back of Toms are Steve Flesch, Loren Roberts, who won last week's Greater Milwaukee Open, and Sergio Garcia. Garcia is certainly liking St. Andrews better than Carnoustie. This year, the 20-year-old Spaniard has shot rounds of 68-68; compared to last year when he shot 89-83.
 
Last year's lovable loser, Jean Van de Velde, is in a tie for 11th at 5-under-par. He's fared much better through two days than 1999 champion Paul Lawrie. Lawrie's reign as Open champion has come to an end after shooting 78-75 for a 9-over-par total.
 
The cut line fell at even par. Aside from Lawrie, Michael Campbell, who tied for 3rd at St. Andrews in 1995, 1994 champion Nick Price, 1995 champ John Daly and all four amateurs in the field failed to qualify for the weekend.