MIYAZAKI, Japan -- Tiger Woods held a three-stroke lead halfway through the Dunlop Phoenix, hoping to end a drought that has left him without a title
Woods shot a 3-under 67 Friday that gave him a score of 8-under 132 after two rounds in the $1.89 million event, the richest on the Japanese tour.
Kaname Yokoo of Japan also shot a 67 for 135. Christian Pena of the United States had the day's best round at 63 and was at 136.
"Things are starting to come together," Woods said. "For the past three or four months I've been a little more at ease making shots, and consequently
the scores are getting better."
Woods, winner of eight major titles, lost his No. 1 ranking to Vijay Singh two months ago. He enjoyed his lone victory this year at the Match Play
Championship. The last time he won a stroke-play tournament was in October 2003. Woods finished eighth in this event two years ago and is seeking his
first victory in Japan.
Woods also renewed his criticism of the PGA of America for its decision to pass over friend Mark O'Meara as captain of the 2006 Ryder Cup team. Tom
Lehman was chosen a few weeks ago.
"He is a good choice," Woods said. "But he would have been a good choice for America four years from now. Timing wise, I just thought this was Mark's
The next Ryder Cup matches are in Ireland, and Woods thought O'Meara should have been selected because of his Irish heritage.
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn of Denmark shot a 69 and was at 4-over 144. British Open champion Todd Hamilton had a 76 and just made the cut.
Pena's round at the Phoenix Country Club featured eight birdies.
"I'm looking forward to playing with Tiger," said Pena, a regular on the Japan Tour. "It'll be my first time and I'm a big fan of his."
Woods carded his first birdie on the par-5 fourth hole. After another birdie on No. 9, Woods birdied the par-4 13th, a dog leg left.
"I just tried to put the ball short of the green," he said. "I didn't want to go above the hole. On this course it's important to stay below the
Woods had a bogey on the par-4 16th. His second shot landed in the greenside bunker and he blasted out to 12 feet before two-putting. Going back to
2002, it was his first bogey in 56 holes at this tournament.
"I didn't want it to stop," Woods said. "It's not as though I was trying to make a bogey on 16. Anytime you can play that many holes without a bogey
you're doing well."
After steady rain Thursday the skies cleared.
"The rains changed everything," Woods said. "The greens are so soft and that's why guys are able to shoot good scores."