Ernie Els is hoping history repeats itself in 2001.
Els carded a bogey-free 66, Friday on the par-73 Plantation Course, to grab a commanding four-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Rory Sabbatini and Jim Furyk with 36 holes remaining in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
Overnight leader Justin Leonard is now six shots off the lead after posting an even-par 73. Tiger Woods also shot 73 on Friday. The score was good enough to keep alive his consecutive rounds at par or better streak on the PGA Tour, which now stands at 49; however, he now finds himself nine strokes back of Els, whom he defeated in a playoff to win this event last year.
Els' 66 moves him to 12-under-par for the tournament. His day included seven birdies and no bogeys in the strong, swirling trade winds. Els will play the third round alongside Singh. The reigning Masters champion played the four par-5s in 5-under-par on Friday en route to a 6-under-par 67.
Furyk and Sabbatini will play in the penultimate group on Saturday. Both men have carded back-to-back rounds of 69 this week. Sabbatini's day included a pair of eagles at the par-5 9th and the par-5 15th.
Furyk, who injured his wrist late last year, is playing for the first time on the PGA Tour since the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas in October. The unorthodox swinger is noted as a solid wind player, having won the Hawaiian Open and three Invensys Classics.
'I would never say I like the wind,' Furyk said. 'That's asking for it to blow 100 mph. But when I'm hitting it well, I can do as well as the next guy.'
Tiger's second round was marked by a series of lip outs early and a host of mis-hits late. Woods was 2-over for the day through 14 holes, before birdying the 15th and 17th holes, the latter coming courtesy of a 30-foot bomb.
'Nothing really went right today,' said Woods, who shot his worst round since a 3-over-par 73 in the first round of the Byron Nelson Classic on May 11; his last round over par.
'It can't be much worse. I'm hitting it terrible, putting it terrible, chipping it terrible. Other than that, it's pretty good.'
Woods will play the third round paired with his winning World Cup partner, David Duval. Duval followed an opening 73 with a second-round 71.
Three players are tied at 7-under-par. Rocco Mediate, Michael Clark II and Billy Andrade are all five off the 36-hole lead. Mediate finished his second round eagle-bogey-birdie, holing his second shot at the par-4 16th.
Jesper Parnevik also holed his approach shot at the 16th. The Swede missed a four-foot birdie putt on the final hole, but still managed to tie Els for the low round of the day, a 7-under-par 66. Parnevik now stands tied for 16th at 4-under.
MORE on The Mercedes Championships:
Ernie Els' 2nd Round Interview Transcript