Tiger in Charge at American Express


2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLER'S CROSS, England -- Tiger Woods fired a 7-under 64 on Friday to stay in the lead after two rounds of the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship. The defending champion stands at 15-under-par 127 and is five clear of the field at The Grove.
Woods went 3-2 last week at the Ryder Cup and was the American team's leading scorer, but the week before at the HSBC World Match Play Championship on the European Tour, the No. 1 player in the world lost in the first round to Shaun Micheel.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk will start the third round trailing Ryder Cup partner Woods by five.
This week is a return to the PGA TOUR, where he was won five consecutive events dating back to the British Open in July. He acknowledged earlier in the week that he believes his streak ended with the loss to Micheel, the PGA TOUR sees differently and Woods is well on his way to No. 6 in a row.
'I'm off to a good start so far but again, we're only at the halfway point,' said Woods, who has won 21 of 23 times since 2000 when he's owned at least a share of the 36-hole lead. 'On top of that, with the conditions the way they are and the greens as smooth and soft as they are, you are going to have to keep making birdies.'
Woods' partner in all four team sessions last week, Jim Furyk, carded a 6-under 65 and is tied for second place with fellow American Ryder Cupper Stewart Cink (67) and European player David Howell (66). The trio is knotted at 10-under-par 132.
Padraig Harrington, who began the second round tied for second place, only managed a 2-under 69 on Friday. He is alone in fifth place at minus-9, followed by Brett Quigley, who posted a 7-under 64 to complete two rounds at 8-under-par 134.
Woods began on the back nine Friday and wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He ran home a 12-footer for birdie on his first hole, then parred his next seven holes before reaching the par-5 18th tee.
Woods eagled the hole to cap off a brilliant round on Thursday, but on Friday, he kickstarted another strong round. His second landed about 10 feet behind the stick and he drained the eagle putt to make the turn at 3 under par.
'That got things going from there,' said Woods, referring to his putt at 18.
Woods reached the par-5 second green with his second and two-putted for a birdie from 35 feet. He parred the third hole, then, with the top of the leaderboard getting crowded, went on a birdie tear.
He birdied the par-3 fourth and rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the fifth. That birdie sent Woods to 14 under par, and thanks to some mistakes from his closest competitors, gave him a four-shot cushion.
The defending champion padded the advantage one hole later. His drive landed in the right rough, but Woods hit his approach to 12 feet. The 12-time major winner sank the birdie putt, and parred out for a five-shot lead with two rounds to play.
'I hit the ball really well again today,' acknowledged Woods, who won this year's British Open and PGA Championship. 'I've given myself a bunch of chances and I've hit the ball in range to make a bunch of putts, which was nice.'
With Woods' amazing record in the lead, coupled with the amazing run of golf he's on now, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Woods will visit the winner's circle on Sunday.
One other factor that certainly tilts things in Woods' favor is his record in World Golf Championships events. He has won 11 individual titles in these events and has an explanation for his success.
'It's basically very similar to major championships,' reasoned Woods. 'You've got great fields, granted, they're not full fields. It's always nice to play the best players in the world.'
Furyk flew out of the gate on Friday with seven birdies through his first 13 holes. He dropped a shot at six, and with Woods soaring past everyone, Furyk found himself in a distant second.
Cink reached 11 under par with a birdie at six, his 15th on Friday, but trouble loomed at No. 8. He bogeyed that hole and had a makeable birdie shot at nine, but missed.
Howell mixed seven birdies with two bogeys for his 66 and he has as much to play for as anyone. Howell trails good friend Paul Casey for the Order of Merit title with the season ending quickly.
Ian Poulter, who shared second place with Harrington after Thursday's opening round, struggled to an even-par 71 on Friday. He is tied for seventh place with Henrik Stenson (67), Ernie Els (70) and Adam Scott (68) at 7-under-par 135.
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