Woods Lurking Five Back in Dubai


2006 Dubai Desert ClassicDUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Tiger Woods will cast a formidable shadow over the rest of the field this weekend at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Ross Fisher is doing his best to stay out of it.
Fisher fired his second consecutive 7-under 65 Friday and held the lead when the second round was suspended because of darkness following a lengthy mid-afternoon weather delay.
Ross Fisher
Jeff Fisher is the surprise leader at the Dubai Desert Classic. (Wire Images)
The Englishman stands at 14-under-par 130 -- two shots ahead of three-time champion Ernie Els, who posted a birdie and an eagle after the delay to get to 12 under through 14 holes.
Sweden's Peter Hanson (65) and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (69) are in the clubhouse at 10-under-par 134. Henrik Stenson is 10 under through 14 holes.
Sitting another shot further back, and within five strokes of the lead, is Woods.
The world's No. 1 golfer, and the defending champion at Emirates Golf Club, shot a 5-under 67 in the second round and is five shots behind Fisher at 9-under 135.
One week after extending his PGA TOUR winning streak to seven, Woods is taking part in the third and final event of the European Tour's so-called 'Gulf Swing.'
He put together a bogey-free second round with four birdies in his first nine holes -- the back nine -- but had just one more the rest of the way. For the second day in a row, Woods needed 29 putts to finish his round.
He averaged 29 putts per day in winning the Buick Invitational last week.
'It was frustrating. I had great speed on the greens again but wasn't really starting the ball on line,' Woods said. 'I just don't feel like I made many putts today. Actually, it was kind of weird.'
Woods is two shots worse than his 36-hole score a year ago, when he finished 67-69 before beating Els in a playoff.
That was Woods' 25th victory on the European Tour schedule. Following a spectacular 2006 season, Woods now has 29 -- tied for fifth all-time behind only Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie.
Fisher, who shared the lead with McDowell overnight, began his round with a 40-foot birdie putt at the first hole and followed that with another birdie at the second.
He bogeyed No. 6 for the second day in a row -- the par-4 has produced his only two dropped shots -- but followed that with six more birdies, including three straight to finish the round.
Fisher, 26, is playing in just his second season on the European Tour. His only 36-hole lead came at last season's South African Airways Open, where he finished tied for ninth.
'To lead any tournament is quite a thrill,' Fisher said. 'I feel so comfortable and calm and relaxed on the course at the moment.'
Fisher's best finish was a tie for third place at the Singapore Masters last March.
'You have got to keep putting yourself in contention,' he said. 'Every guy's dream is to win a European Tour event. That's what we all come out here for and I don't think my mind set is any different. I know deep down I am good enough and I feel like I belong out here and am ready to win.'
Play was suspended for 2 hours and 15 minutes because of bad weather. It resumed at 4:40 p.m. local time (7:40 a.m. ET) but was suspended for good several hours later.
When players return to the course Saturday morning, Els will have four holes remaining to catch Fisher. He played Nos. 15-18 at 2 under par in the first round.
Meaning Els will probably be in the final third-round group with Fisher.
'It's going to be a totally different to what I have experienced before,' Fisher described playing with someone like Els. 'This weekend could be the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of.
'But at the end of the day, this is what we want to try and do. That's what I want to try and achieve -- to win golf tournaments, that's why I turn up.'
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