Woods chases leaders

2006-08-19 10:42
Chicago - World number one Tiger Woods surged to within one stroke of the leaders, rolling in a birdie putt on 18 en route to a four-under 68 in the second round of the $6.8m PGA Championship.

England's Luke Donald and Sweden's Henrik Stenson led another birdie fest on Friday each shooting their second-straight 68s to top a crowded leaderboard in the final major of the season.

Donald and Stenson were joined by Americans Billy Andrade (69) and Tim Herron (67) at eight-under 136 after two rounds at the Medinah Country Club course.

But most eyes were on the marquee group of major winners Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who were playing together in a major championship for only the second time.

Woods 'in good shape'

"I'm in good shape, only one back," Woods said. "There's a bunched leaderboard."

Woods got an assist from a fan on his first hole when his tee shot sailed wide left and headed for the gallery.

A spectator took it on the first hop, reached up and slapped it back towards the fairway.

"Hey, I appreciate it," said Woods, who parred the 434-yard, par-four hole. "It's nice to have Shaq out there knocking them back."

Woods finished his round with a flurry, pumping his right arm after sinking a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

"I had really good pace on the greens," he said. "I felt like I hit the ball well after the first six holes and from there I controlled my flight."

Defending champ Mickelson shot a one-under 71 and is tied for 18th in a group of seven at four-under 140.

Easy pickings

For the second straight day the 7,561 Medinah course was easy pickings for the world's best golfers. A record 61 of the 155 starters bettered par - breaking the mark of 60 for any round in a PGA Championship set on Friday.

The 2004 PGA Champion Vijay Singh (one-over 145) headlined a list of prominent players who missed the cut after failing to break par. Last year's US Open champ Michael Campbell, Ireland's Padraig Harrington, 2004 British Open champ Todd Hamilton and American John Daly also bowed out early.

Donald sank four birdies in Friday's bogey-free round.

"I just played very consistently," said Donald, who attended nearby Northwestern University. "I had a good short game and hit good shots."

Rain forecast

A combination of windless conditions and soft greens made for perfect conditions and an abundance of low scores on Thursday.

The low scoring continued Friday but the Chicago weather turned muggy for afternoon starters, like Donald, Woods and Mickelson, who played through a steady drizzle. The rain is also forecast for Saturday.

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