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The Star Online: Sports

Woods claws back in Dubai with 6-under 2nd round

Posted: 11 Feb 2011 05:31 AM PST

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Tiger Woods surged up the Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard by shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Friday to pull him back in contention for his first tournament victory in more than a year.

Helped by stellar putting and a consistent short game, Woods sank six birdies to reach 7 under for the tournament and within three shots of early second-round leader Thomas Aiken of South Africa. It was the low round of the day thus far.

Woods was tied with Denmark's Anders Hansen and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey.

First-round leader Rory McIlroy, after dropping a stroke on the second hole, was at 8 under after nine holes. He started slowly but strung together two birdies on his last three holes, sinking a 15-footer on 9 to take sole possession of second.

Woods, who has been outdriving his playing partners, No. 1-ranked Lee Westwood and No. 2 Martin Kaymer, added accuracy to his blistering drives and approach shots on Friday. And unlike Thursday when he missed several makable putts and hit approach shots wide of the green, he routinely gave himself chances.

"It felt good today. I hit a lot of good shots," said Woods, who likened his game on Friday to the way he played at last year's Chevron World Challenge, where he lost in a playoff to U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.

"I felt like I drove it pretty good and more than anything I controlled my traj (trajectory) which was nice," he said. "I feel good. We worked out a few of the things last night that I didn't like."

Much of the talk going into the tournament was the powerhouse group of Woods, Westwood and Kaymer. But only Woods delivered on Friday, with Westwood (70) at 5-under 139 and Kaymer (71) on 4 under.

Westwood had four birdies but bogeyed two of his last four holes, missing two makable putts. Kaymer, meanwhile, never seemed to get his game going, posting three birdies but also two bogeys in a row on his first six holes.

"I didn't hit it so good. I didn't give my self enough chances," Westwood said. "It was just a plod round really, a bit of a boring day."

Westwood, who last year struggled with a calf injury, said his distance has been suffering as has his control. It showed where his approach shots were coming up short, leaving him long putts on several holes that just saddled past the hole or came up inches short.

"Distance control is poor when you are not striking it very well," he said. "I'm just playing for the fat of the greens really and trying to make a few long ones which I haven't, which is the reason I'm 5 under. Still in there with a chance."

The unheralded Aiken, ranked 97th in the world and known as much for his shoulder-length hair as for his swing, attributed his 67s in the first two rounds to the fact he's "been hitting ball pretty solid this week."

"Missed one green the whole day and I was on the fringe and I got to putt," Aiken said. "Just been putting the ball in the right positions, and these greens are so pure that you're going to sink some putts."

Aiken said he welcomed the chance to play alongside Woods on Saturday if it transpires.

"Fantastic to play with a player of his caliber," Aiken said. "I played with lots of good players in the past so it's not going to be anything new. And when you play with good players, it tends to spur your golf on and you end up playing better." There was more at stake this weekend than the tournament title.

Westwood could lose the top ranking if Kaymer wins and he finishes lower than second, and if Kaymer finishes second and Westwood is out of the top 10. If Kaymer is tied for second, he could still become No. 1 for the first time if Westwood finishes out of the top 36.

Woods could move ahead of Kaymer if he wins and Kaymer finishes outside the top five but his recent form indicates he won't be moving up the rankings soon.

Woods, who won this tournament in 2006 and 2008, said he could do even better going into a weekend where the forecast was for much windier conditions. Still, he said he relished his second round, picking out his 6th hole as emblematic of his day.

Woods drove the fairway on the 485-yard, par-4 hole and hit an 8-iron about 160 yards to within a foot of the pin, where he made an easy birdie putt. It was the kind of shot that brought to mind the once-dominating Woods.

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Lewis, Smith tied for lead at Australian Masters

Posted: 11 Feb 2011 12:57 AM PST

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - American Stacey Lewis and Australian Kristie Smith shot 7-under par 65s to take a share of the second-round lead at the Australian Ladies Masters on Friday.

Lewis and Smith were at 12-under-par 132 after 36 holes at Royal Pines. Yani Tseng of Taiwan shot 66 and was in third place, a stroke behind.

Six players were tied for fourth, two strokes back: Germany's Sandra Gal (64), American Ryann O'Toole and South Africa's Ashleigh Simon (66s), Ahn Shin-ae of South Korea and England's Melissa Reid (67s) and Maria Hernandez of Spain (68).

English veteran Laura Davies shot 67 and was at 136, four behind. Seven-time winner Karrie Webb shot 71 and was five behind.

Lewis had two top-three finishes in the United States last year. She plays with a steel rod and five pins and screws in her back after having surgery for scoliosis three years ago. She had 10 birdies and an eagle in 36 holes, without dropping a shot.

The best round of the day belonged to another American, Mollie Fankhauser, who had nine birdies on her way to a round of 63.

Tseng thought she could have done better than her 66.

"I feel like I should have shot 10 under," said Tseng. "I don't know if it was my stroke or my head. It was very stressful."

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