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August 16, 2009

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Woods opens up big lead at Hazeltine

TIGER Woods answered every challenge with a brilliant display of power shot-making on a hot, windy day at Hazeltine to seize a commanding four-stroke lead after 36 holes of the US PGA Championship.

Woods, up by one after an opening 67, burst out of a four-way tie with back-to-back birdies from the sixth and quashed a late challenge by Briton Ross Fisher with three birdies in a row to post 70 for a seven-under total of 137 in Chaska, Minnesota.

"It was pretty blustery," Woods said about the 40 kilometers per hour gusts that blew across the 7,674-meter layout, the longest to hold a major championship. "It was changing directions a little bit here and there. It was affecting putts. You had to play the wind on putts."

Five players were tied for second on three-under 141 -- holder Padraig Harrington of Ireland (73), two-time winner Vijay Singh of Fiji (72), US Open champion Lucas Glover (70), Australian Brendan Jones (70) and Fisher (68).

Fisher birdied three of four holes from the 14th to surge into a tie with Woods on five-under, but the world No. 1 shifted into high gear and the 28-year-old Englishman bogeyed his last two holes to drop back.

On the front nine, Spaniard Alvaro Quiros and Graeme McDowell of Britain joined Woods and Harrington in a four-way tie for the lead on four-under before giving way.

McDowell shot 75 and Quiros 76 as both finished on 145.

Woods played some spectacular golf sandwiched inside a bogey start and bogey finish. He took five on the par-four first hole after driving into the left rough and lost a stroke to par after an errant approach on the 18th.

The 33-year-old Woods has won all eight times after leading a major at the half-way mark.


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