Woods bullish despite deficit

Updated: 19 June 2010 08:02 IST

A defiant Tiger Woods insisted another US Open title at Pebble Beach is still within range after he completed Friday's second round seven shots adrift.

Woods bullish despite deficit

Pebble Beach, California : A defiant Tiger Woods insisted another US Open title at Pebble Beach is still within range after he completed Friday's second round seven shots adrift.

"I feel very good," said Woods, whose three birdies in a one-over par 72 gave him a four-over total of 146 - seven off the early pace set by Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.

"I'm right there in the championship. I just need to make a few more birdies, a few more putts on the weekend and I'll be right there."

Woods' 2000 US Open victory at Pebble Beach was one of golf's greatest triumphs.

He finished a record 12-under par, posting a record 15-stroke victory as his nearest rivals could get no lower than three-over.

He led wire-to-wire, turning Sunday into a victory march.

This time around he'll be trying to claw his way to the top.

"I just need to keep progressing and keep moving my way up the board," Woods said. "It's a long haul. The US Open is not going to get easier as the week goes on. Especially on the weekend."

Woods' second US Open victory, at Bethpage Black in 2002, also saw him leading after every round.

At Torrey Pines in 2008 he trailed Australian Stuart Appleby by one stroke at the halfway stage, but had gained a narrow lead after 54 holes.

Woods, limping on a damaged knee, still needed a 19th playoff hole on Monday to vanquish Rocco Mediate.

Woods said the par-71, 7,040-yard Pebble Beach layout was "a little bit easier" on Friday morning than it was when he tackled it on Thursday afternoon, when the greens were getting bumpy.

After a chip-in for birdie at the par-four 11th - his second hole of the day - Woods made an impressive birdie from six feet at the difficult par-five 14th.

But he bogeyed two par-threes on the back nine and failed to birdie two more par-fives - missing a golden opportunity at the sixth hole.

Even so, Woods said he "absolutely" liked his position heading into the weekend.

While his highly publicized personal problems have been a distraction for Woods this year - prompting a lengthy break from which he has yet to return to full strength - South African Ernie Els said Woods should never be counted out.

"A guy that's won 14 majors, he's got a lot of game," said Els, who played alongside Woods in the first and second rounds.

"I think he's very close," Els added. "I think his ball-striking was pretty good the last two days.

"His short game is pretty sharp, he just didn't make enough putts. I think it's only a matter of time before he starts getting in his stride."

Whether that will happen soon enough to let Woods challenge for a fourth US Open title this weekend remains to be seen.
Topics : Golf
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