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Love Jimenez Lead in LA But Tiger Still in Hunt

Once again, Davis Love III has surfaced to the top of the leaderboard.

Love carded a 4-under-par 67 to tie Miguel Angel Jimenez, who shot 66, for the 36-hole lead in the 75th Nissan Open. At 7-under for the tournament, the pair leads Brandel Chamblee (68), Shigeki Maruyama (69), Scott McCarron (68), Chris Perry (68) and Craig Barlow (68) by one shot.
Tiger Woods spent the better part of the day trying to extend his streak of 63 consecutive cuts made. Despite birdying the first, Woods was even par for the tournament upon making the turn.
Tiger finally found his flow early on the back nine with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes, but a bogey at the par-3 16th dropped him to 1-under-par, a stroke above the cutline.
Woods then put to rest any doubt whether or not he would be around for the weekend by eagling the par-5 17th. He finished the day at 3-under 139, just four off the lead.
'Hopefully, I can get it going,' said Woods, who hit only 10 of 18 greens in regulation. 'The greens I do hit, it's not close enough to make any putts.'
Thanks to a win at Pebble Beach, his first PGA Tour victory in 63 starts, and a tie for second in the Buick Invitational, Love is in position to capture the unofficial $500,000 bonus that is awarded to the winner of the West Coast Swing.
The Sea Island, Ga., resident is tied for the top spot with Brad Faxon and Ernie Els, both of whom are not in competing this week.
But after two rounds in Pacific Palisades, Calif., that's a mere afterthought.
'Winning at Riviera is the focal point,' said Love.
Playing in chilly, rainy conditions early Friday morning, Love started sluggish, making the turn in 1-under-par 34. But as the conditions warmed, so too did Love. The 14-time Tour winner birdied four of his first five holes on the back nine en route to his 11th straight under-par round.
'I was playing good golf, now I'm playing pretty good golf,' Love said. 'I'm not playing great golf. I'm not playing perfect, but I'm playing determined and confident.'
As is Jimenez. The 37-year-old Spaniard has evolved from journeyman to worldwide contender over the past four years. Jimenez recorded multiple win seasons on the European Tour in 1998 and '99. And, despite not winning in 2000, Jimenez posted a pair of top-5 finishes on U.S. soil, including a tie for second in the U.S. Open.
Friday, Jimenez made a strong bid for his first stateside victory by playing his first 13 holes in 7-under. His scoring began with an eagle at the par-5 first, and concluded with a birdie at the 13th.
Jimenez led the event by two shots at 9-under, but bogeyed the 14th and 16th holes to finish at minus-7.
'I have as good a chance as Davis Love,' Jimenez said.
Day Two was a rough one for the overnight leaders. Tom Scherrer posted an even-par 71 to remain at 5-under. Sergio Garcia dropped to 4-under after a 72. Brent Schwarzrock, the 13th alternate who was an 11th-hour addition to the field, fell to 1-under following a 75.
But none fared worse than Kirk Triplett. The defending champion, who opened his title defense with a 66, was 15 strokes higher on Friday. Triplett revived memories of Rod Pampling, who led after the first round of the 1999 British Open only to miss the cut. Triplett did the same thanks to a 10-over-par 81.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Despite finishing with three straight bogeys, German amateur Gary Birch shot 72 to make the cut at even par. Birch, a Monday qualifier, became the first amateur to make a cut on the PGA Tour since Jeffrey Wilson tied for 59th in the 2000 U.S. Open.
*80 players made the even-par cutline; Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples were not among them. Mickelson shot 73-74 to finish at 5-over. Couples shot 73-72 to finish at 3-over. Couples had made 11 straight cuts in this event. Mickelson, who trails Love by 10 points on the West Coast Swing, is now out of the running for first place.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Nissan Open!