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Woods heats up, sits atop leaderboard at Doral


With the Masters right around the corner and his putting stroke lagging behind, Tiger Woods stayed on the practice green for close to an hour after the first round at Doral in a desperate search for a solution.

With a 10-foot par that meant more to him than any of his six birdies, he found it Friday in the CA Championship. The result was a familiar name atop the leaderboard at a tournament that has changed in so many ways.

Woods followed his key par with three straight birdies on his way a 6-under 66 for a two-shot lead over Rod Pampling, putting the world's No. — player back on track for a third consecutive victory on the Blue Monster.

"Any time you make big par putts, I think it's more important to make those than birdie putts," Woods said. "You don't ever want to drop a shot. The psychological difference between dropping a shot and making a birdie, I just think it's bigger to make a par putt. And I was able to make those."

He spoke in plural terms because there were two of them. The 10-foot par on the par-3 ninth kept him from losing ground. The 10-foot par putt on the 18th hole kept his margin at two shots. Woods was at 7-under 137 and will play in the final group Saturday with Pampling (69) a frequent practice partner at the majors.

The conditions have been the biggest change at a tournament that has undergone a makeover. It's now a World Golf Championship with 73 players from around the world, not 144 players from primarily the PGA Tour. Doral is being played at the end of the Florida Swing, instead of the first week in March.

A year ago, the cut was made at 4-under par. Now, that's good enough for third place, a group that includes Ernie Els (70), Henrik Stenson (73), Charles Howell III (71), Thomas Bjorn (72) and Trevor Immelman (68).

Woods' 66 was the best round of the tournament, and another example of how strong wind and new greens that are unfamiliar to so many regulars at Doral has affected scoring.

Safeway International


Lorena Ochoa made two eagles to take a one-stroke lead over Catriona Matthew in the suspended second round of the Safeway International.

The Mexican star was 9 under with four holes remaining when play was suspended because of darkness. She will have a 12-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 15th hole when play resumes Saturday.

Ochoa eagled the par-4 sixth, holing a 6-iron from 165 yards. On the par-5 13th, she hit her second shot within 10 feet of the green and holed a 30-foot wedge shot.

Matthew was 8 under through 17 holes, twice making chips for birdies. The Scot will have a 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 ninth when she closes out the second round.

Norway's Suzann Pettersen was the clubhouse leader at 7 under after a 68.

Play was suspended because of darkness for the second day in a row. On Thursday, rain and lightning stopped the tournament for about two hours, forcing 72 players to finish the first round Friday morning.

Rain and wind greeted them. The storm moved out by midday Friday, and there were no more delays, but about 60 players were still on the course when play was suspended.

Annika Sorenstam was — under after a 68.

Madeira Islands Open

SANTO DA SERRA, Madeira Islands &

Argentina's Daniel Vancsik shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Madeira Islands Open.

Vancsik had a 10-under 134 total. France' Christian Cevaer (67) was second, and Spain's Santiago Luna (67) was another stroke back.