Woods makes cut, moves up the board

At the midway point of the AT&T National, the host is now 6 shots off the pace set by Choi and Appleby.

Posted: July 07, 2007

BETHESDA, Md. - Since his name is in the official title of the tournament, a collective sigh of relief could be heard around here yesterday when Tiger Woods toured Congressional Country Club with a smooth 66.

The hot, 4-under-par round did more than give Woods a cushion from the cut line. It sent him up the leader board in the AT&T National, into the shadows of contention heading into the weekend.

At the midway point of this new tournament, Woods, who is doing triple duty as player, host and new father, stands at 1 under, 6 shots behind coleaders K.J. Choi and Stuart Appleby, both of whom shot 67 yesterday to reach 7 under.

"I was just trying to get myself back in the tournament," said Woods, whose round included two bogeys and six birdies, most notably a string of three straight to close out the front nine.

It would have been an especially awkward moment if Woods had missed the cut. In addition to being the host, which comes with evening obligations and meet-and-greets, Woods has been the veritable toast of the town all week.

In a city that knows how to treat a visiting dignitary, Woods' every move is watched, oohed and aahed over by thousands of fans, then chronicled by a phalanx of local media. Even the New York Daily News dispatched a second writer to blog all-Tiger, all the time.

As far as tournament officials could determine, yesterday's attendance of 28,110 topped anything from the old, defunct Kemper Open/Booz Allen Classic, and even the Friday figures from the 1997 U.S. Open here.

"I'm shocked, honestly, to see this many people here, especially so early in the morning," Woods said. "When we teed off this morning [8:25], the fairways were lined."

Woods jump-started his round at the par-3 seventh when he hit his tee shot to 81/2 feet and sank the birdie putt. At the almost-drivable par-4 eighth, he stuck his pitch shot inside six feet and made that for birdie, to get to even par for the tournament.

He picked up a final birdie on the front at the par-5 ninth. He missed the fairway and was forced to lay up, but he hit his approach from 143 yards to 14 feet and made that.

The big difference in his round yesterday was his putting: He needed only 25 putts, nine fewer than the day before.

"I did some altering on my putter last night," he said. "I didn't bend it."

Because he thought the greens were running a "touch on the slow side" Thursday, Woods put a little strip of lead tape on his putter after his round that day to make it heavier. Obviously, it helped.

Meanwhile, with Woods sucking all the air out of the room, there was little talk about the two men at the top of the leader board, Choi and Appleby.

That didn't bother Appleby, who collected three birdies on the front nine yesterday.

"It's a long, long way to go," he said.


Contact staff writer Joe Logan at 215-854-5604 or jlogan@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/joelogan.

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