Six-under 65 gives Woods one-shot lead
NORTON, Mass. -- Tiger Woods doesn't feel as though he's on a roll, but it sure seems that way.
Woods reached all the par 5s in two, had control of his irons, made one good escape from the trees and holed enough putts Friday for a 6-under 65 that gave him an early one-shot lead in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"Turned out to be a really nice day," he said.
Billy Andrade, inspired by watching fellow New Englander Brad Faxon win last week in Connecticut, holed an 8-iron from 156 yards for eagle on the 13th hole on his way to a 66, his best round since May. He was tied with Carlos Franco, Briny Baird and Steve Lowery.
No one else challenged them among the afternoon starters, although conditions were so tame that 60 players broke par and were within five shots of the lead.
Woods was more solid than spectacular on a gorgeous day on the TPC at Boston, but it served as an example of how comfortable he has become with changes to his swing. In his seven PGA Tour events since missing the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship in May, Woods has won twice and finished no worse than a tie for fourth.
That matches the longest streak of top 5s in his career, last accomplished from February to June in 2000.
None of which he found particularly impressive.
"I don't feel like I'm on a roll at all," he said. "I feel like this is the way I should play every day. That's why I made the changes in my golf swing, so I would be consistent, so it's not like I go out there and I hit the ball unbelievable and putt unbelievable to shoot these scores. I'm just playing solid golf."
Woods also opened with a 65 a year ago on the TPC at Boston, but ended up losing ground, losing the tournament and losing his No. 1 ranking to Vijay Singh.
Singh could not return to defend his title because he injured his back playing table tennis, making this the first time Woods has played on the PGA Tour without Singh around since the Nissan Open in February.
That doesn't make it his tournament to win.
This late into the year, several players are trying to win for the first time or at least keep their card. Baird would fall into the second category, at 138th on the money list and having already turned in his application for Q-school. He hasn't had a top 10 since the Bay Hill Invitational in March.
Based on what happened on his first hole, Baird had reason to believe the sun still might shine on his season. He hammered a 30-foot putt that was picking up speed when it hit the back of the cup, hopped straight up and disappeared into the hole for birdie.
"Jumped 5 inches in the air," Baird said.
The rest of his day was relatively routine, with three straight birdies getting his name atop the leaderboard.
"Things are turning around," he said. "I'm starting to swing at it a little better."
Andrade attributes his summer malaise to spending time in his native Rhode Island, where he found himself wanting to head to the beach with his family instead of the next PGA Tour stop. Unlike previous years, his card is safe for next year, and he would have been content to ride out the season.
But then his best buddy, Faxon, won before a New England crowd last week.
"If you can't get inspired by what happened last Sunday in Hartford, then there's something wrong with you," Andrade said. "That fired me up to want to play well, starting today."
Woods opened with five pars, made a 10-foot on the 15th and grazed the cup with a 45-foot eagle attempt on the 18th hole. His only lapse on the greens came at the par-5 second, where he three-putted for par, missing a 4-foot birdie.
It all changed with birdies to move up the board, and pars to save his momentum.
Briny Baird got the bad end of the draw. He played in the third-to-last group Thursday in the pro-am and left the course at dark. He played in the first group Friday at 6:50 a.m. "It doesn't happen very often," he said. "Obviously, I'd rather get a little more sleep than that." ... Billy Andrade went to the claw grip in February, but abandoned it last week in Hartford. ... Sean O'Hair was at even par until a birdie-par-eagle finish gave him a 68. A cinch to win PGA Tour rookie of the year, O'Hair said he was considering a trip to Asia in November, but likely will stay home during the offseason. ... Tim Herron is going back to his roots. Having lived outside Phoenix the past several years, he recently moved into a new house in Minnesota. He and his wife are expecting twins later this year.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press