Seeing Red at Sahalee

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SAMMAMISH, Wash. ' Players warned earlier in the week that this Sahalee Country Club was a far cry from the one they faced in the 1998 PGA Championship. And through two rounds of this years WGC-NEC Invitational, theyre showing why.
 
Four years ago, Vijay Singh won the PGA at 9-under-par. But this time the course is soft, receptive, has an added par-5, and is being abused like the Take-A-Penny dish at 7-11.
 
Australian Robert Allenby established a new course record Friday, birdieing the last from the tall timbers for an 8-under 63. He shares the 36-hole lead along with Steve Lowery, who matched the previous record at 6-under 65.
 
The two are tied at 10-under-par 132, one shot clear of overnight co-leader Retief Goosen (68). Justin Rose, making just his second start in the U.S., is two back after a second-straight 67. He closed with a birdie, while Phil Mickelson (69) finished bogey-bogey to fall to minus 7.
 
This course is so much easier than in 98, said Tiger Woods, who has yet to take advantage of the conditions.
 
Woods shot 1-under 70 to finish at 4-under. His day included a birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie stretch on holes 2-6.
 
I was trying to improve my bounce-back stat, the three-time NEC champion joked.
 
Woods has made eight birdies and an eagle over the first two rounds, but hes also notched four bogeys and a double.
 
Just threw away a couple of shots out there today, said Woods, who missed four greens in regulation over his first eight holes. I didnt play as well as I did yesterday. Today, I didnt hit the ball particularly well ' didnt hit it flush today.
 
Tiger is trying to become the first player since Walter Hagen (1924-27 in the PGA Championship) to win the same event four consecutive years. To do so, hell have to do what others have already done.
 
You have to shoot low because the guys (in front) are going to continue to shoot low, he said.
 
'I don't care how long (a course) is or how short it is, with the green soft, guys are going to go low.'
 
Going low was the cry of the day in round two, and a call Allenby answered.
 
Starting the day four back, he made the turn in a routine 1-under 35. But after another par at the 10th, he played his final eight holes in 7-under.
 
Allenbys scoring kick-started at the par-5 11th, where he hit a 3-iron over the trees guarding the green to 10 feet. He made the eagle, and then birdied 13, 14, 15 and 16; none of his birdie putts in that stretch were longer than eight feet.
 
At the par-5 18th, the four-time PGA Tour winner pulled his 2-iron approach, but hit a bump-and-run sand-wedge to six feet to set a new personal best score on tour.
 
'The course was set up for scoring,' said Allenby, who is 2-2 in converting a 36-hole lead on tour into victory.
 
Lowerys round wasnt his best ever, but it could have come close. The 41-year-old, who once shot 60 in the final round of the 1997 Buick Classic, birdied his first three holes Friday, and was 6-under on the day through 10 holes ' this despite missing back-to-back birdie putts inside seven feet at the 6 and 7.
 
A three-putt from six feet at the 11th led to his first bogey of the day, and was followed by another dropped shot at the 12th. He recovered, however, with birdies on 15 and 16.
 
Lowery has done everything but win in the last month. He earned back-to-back runner-ups at the John Deere and International. His second-place showing at Castle Pines came despite an explosive finish, which included a holed approach shot for eagle on 15 and the same for double-eagle on 17. He also tied for 10th at the PGA.
 
'I've been playing pretty well here lately,' said Lowery, who has two tour wins. 'I've just been having a good time.'
 
Full-field scores from the WGC-NEC Invitational