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Woods Not About to Change Strategy

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) -- Tiger Woods has to believe he knows more about winning the U.S. Open than anyone else on the leaderboard at Olympia Fields. He did, lest anyone forget, win the last one and two of the last three.
The rest of the top 10 after 36 holes in this Chicago suburb? Forget about it, there's not one U.S. Open trophy among them.
So when someone suggested to Woods that his strategy of playing it safe wasn't going to work in the lowest-scoring Open of the last decade, the best player in the world could only smile and promise nothing will change.
'There's nothing wrong with making pars in the U.S. Open,' Woods said.
Maybe not. But in this Open people are making birdies in bunches, and for a short time Friday it looked like Woods might be left with a weekend hurdle even he would be hard-pressed to overcome if he wanted to become only the second player in the last 50 years to win consecutive Opens.
After Woods put the finishing touches on a ho-hum 4-under 66, though, he was only three shots off the lead through 36 holes and liking his chances to win his ninth major championship.
It was his second-best Open round ever, just behind the 65 Woods shot in the first round at Pebble Beach in 2000, where he blew away the rest of the field to win his first Open. This one merely kept him in contention, tied for fifth with the likes of Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson.
'Anytime you're under par in the U.S. Open after two days you've got a chance,' Woods said. 'I'm where I want to be.'
Compared to where he was when he teed off Friday afternoon, yes.
Woods began his day at even-par, about the same time Jim Furyk was putting the finishing touches on a second-round 66 that put him at 7-under for the tournament.
Woods promptly hit his first shot deep in the trees to the right, and, as the massive gallery parted, he walked quickly to the ball with a frown on his face.
A moment later, he had the crowd cheering wildly when he slashed a 3-wood through an opening in the trees into the left bunker, where he then got up-and-down for an opening birdie on the par-5 that set the tone for the rest of his round.
Over the next 17 holes, Woods would hit a spectacular cut 3-wood, make a long curling birdie putt and, finally, just miss a greenside chip on the 18th hole that would have gotten him to 5-under.
It was a lot more entertaining than his grind-it-out first round of 70, but he insisted nothing had changed about either his game or his approach to the soft and accommodating greens at Olympia Fields.
That approach is one of erring on the side of caution, and not allowing himself to be lured into attacking pins hidden behind bunkers.
'The only flag I really fired at was 18,' Woods said. 'If you get too aggressive you go out there and hit it on the short side and make a couple bogeys, you put yourself right out of it.'
Woods used precisely the same strategy last year at Bethpage Black in New York, where he led from the first round on and was the only player to break par at 3-under.
At Olympia Fields, though, 3-under barely gets you in the top 10 after 36 holes. If the sun doesn't come out and dry out the greens, this could end up being the lowest-scoring Open ever.
Woods understands the usually brutal Open conditions have changed, but insists he won't.
'This particular tournament has been more fair than we've seen before as far as its setup,' he said. 'It's not as severe. But a lot of that is because of the weather. It's playing soft.'
Besides, Woods said, he doesn't see the low scoring continuing on the weekend. The greens should get firmer, and the U.S. Golf Association staff may try to protect par by putting pins in places players will cringe at.
'You're going to see it get tougher,' he said.
And what if it takes score lower than the record 12-under he shot at Pebble Beach to win?
'If the USGA has their way, I don't think you're going to see that,' Woods said.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Open Home
  • Full Tournament Coverage
  • Olympia Fields Course Tour
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