Tiger Woods Tiger Woods looks to sap drama out of PGA Tour's FedEx Cup

With 36 holes remaining in the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods is doing his best to sap the drama right out of the chase for the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup.

Woods finished up Thursday's weather-delayed first round with a 6-under-par 64 and then followed with a 7-under 63 to build a three-stroke lead Friday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Topping the leaderboard at 13-under 127, Woods - one of the best closers in the history of professional golf - appears to be well on his way to winning the $10 million deferred prize for taking the FedEx Cup.

Now a total of 65 under par in his 18 rounds since the British Open, Woods would appear to be playing some of his best golf of the year. He's won 29 of 35 PGA Tour events when he's either leading or tied for the lead after 36 holes.

Although Woods doesn't need to win the Tour Championship to take the FedEx Cup - depending on the finish of his top challengers - the world No. 1 player doesn't seem remotely interested in figuring out all the possible scenarios.

"You just want to win the tournament," Woods said in his post-round press conference. "Winning always takes care of everything. The whole idea of this week is to go out there and get it done. At the halfway point I'm in good shape for that."

Woods got there thanks in part to an amazing front nine to start his second round. After three consecutive pars, Woods reeled off five straight birdies and then rammed home a 70-footer for eagle on No. 9.

"Pure luck," Woods said of the putt. "If you could have been right behind the golf ball and seen how that thing was bouncing all over the place, it was actually quite funny."

The eagle allowed Woods to make the turn in 28 on East Lake's layout that featured greens so soft that 4-iron approach shots were plugging just like a shot hit with a wedge. At that point, Woods appeared to have the PGA Tour single-round record of 59 in his sights.

"I didn't know I shot 28 on the front nine until we got in the scoring tent, until we added it up," Woods said. "You just play shot for shot. You place the golf ball and you don't worry about anything else."

Was Woods in the zone?

"Well, I don't know if it's a zone or not," said Woods, who also holed out a bunker shot during his amazing stretch. "I just felt that the rhythm was good."

Woods couldn't keep it going on the back nine as he played even par with two birdies against two bogeys. That was perhaps the only thing standing in the way of Woods simply running away with the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship title.

Woody Austin, who has carded back-to-back rounds of 65, is second and will be paired with Woods in Saturday's second round. While some players might not like the circus atmosphere that normally comes with playing with Woods, Austin said he's savoring the opportunity.

"His arena is very electric," Austin told reporters. "I hit a lot of good shots (Friday), and you're waiting for people to clap or hear anything, and you really don't hear much going on. But every time he did something today, you heard it because he's got all the people with him.

"So that electricity that surrounds him, whether it's for him or not, when you're in that arena you feel it, and I'd like to feed off that, as well. I enjoy being inside that arena because it's so electric."

First-round leader Tim Clark, Mark Calcavecchia and Adam Scott were all tied for third at 9-under 131 and four back of Woods. Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi were tied for sixth at 7-under.

Choi, Phil Mickelson (tied for 12th at 6-under), Rory Sabbatini (tied for 16th at 4-under), Steve Stricker (tied for 16th at 4-under) and Aaron Baddeley (tied for 24th at 1 under) were the only players entering the tournament with a mathematical chance to catch Woods in the FedEx Cup standings. With two rounds to go, their odds now appear almost microscopic.

"If you let him get in front of you," Austin said. "He's hard to catch."

September 15, 2007

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