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WOODS treading water at U.S. Open


TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Tiger Woods, missing several birdie chances, failed to make a charge at the U.S. Open Saturday in his pursuit of a fifth straight major.

Beginning the day with a nine-shot deficit, Woods was even par through 14 holes and still 5 over for the tournament. He managed three birdies, but gave the strokes back with three bogeys.

With an unusually early start on the weekend, Woods neared the end of his round at Southern Hills Country Club before co-leaders Retief Goosen, Mark Brooks and J.L. Lewis, at 4 under, even teed off.

Phil Mickelson, seeking his first major title, got off to a good start with a birdie at his first hole. He moved to 2 under, within two shots of the leaders.

Woods didn't get off to a good start, knocking his first shot of the day into a bunker. He wound up with a bogey.

Woods had birdie putts at the next three holes but couldn't get any to fall. A couple of times, he raised the putter believing the ball would drop, only to be disappointed.

A 20-footer at No. 3 lipped out, while another putt from about the same distance slid by the edge of the fourth hole _ the kind of shots Woods usually made during his sweep of the Big Four tournaments.

He did have as many birdies as he managed through the first two rounds, beginning at the 642-yard fifth. Woods nearly reached the green in two shots, then sank a 10-footer to complete an up-and-down from the sand.

At No. 8, Woods knocked a 3-iron to 5 feet and made the birdie putt. He also birdied the 14th by rolling in a 15-footer.

But he didn't make up ground, bogeying No. 9 after plugging his second shot in the rough in front of a bunker and losing another stroke at 12, where his tee shot sailed into the trees.

There was another birdie attempt at the 15th, but his 12-footer from the fringe curled wide of the cup.

``I'm trying as hard as I can. Sometimes things don't go your way,'' Woods said Friday.

Amateur Bryce Molder, who needed three birdies on his final six holes Friday just to make the cut, had the best score in the early going of the third: a 2-under 68.

Woods had his worst opening round in the U.S. Open in three years, a 4-over 74. He spent the next 18 holes flirting with the cut line before a late run of birdies kept him around for the weekend.

Goosen heard one roar after another coming from Woods' direction and assumed he was making an early run.

``I thought it was him on a roll again,'' the South African said.

Woods' charge _ a great par save and back-to-back birdies _ got him to 4 over and spared him an early departure from a major for the first time since he was in college.

Still, Woods finished with an ordinary 71, facing his largest deficit in a major since the 2000 Masters, the only Big Four event he didn't win of the last six.

Two-time Open winner Lee Janzen left the course Friday believing he was tied with Woods at 145. The U.S. Golf Association, however, assessed Janzen a belated two-stroke penalty that caused him to miss the cut by one stroke instead of making it by the same margin.

Janzen was penalized for using a towel to dry the dew-covered fairway before he re-spotted his ball when the first round resumed early Friday.

``I certainly wasn't trying to break any rules,'' he said. ``I won't break that rule again.''

Brooks, who won the 1996 PGA Championship and was the only co-leader with any kind of pedigree, birdied five of his first six holes _ the kind of start expected from Woods _ for a 6-under 64 and an unlikely spot going into the weekend.

Goosen finally finished the storm-delayed first round Friday morning with a 66 for the lead, then he held onto it with a par 70. Lewis, a 40-year-old former club pro who has only one PGA Tour victory, had back-to-back 68s in a major championship he described as ``just a golf tournament.''

They were at 136, two strokes ahead of Sergio Garcia, who had a bogey-free round of 68 to get into contention at a major for the first time since he leapt onto the scene at the PGA Championship two years ago.

Also at 138 was Stewart Cink, who was allowed to finish the 18th hole when play was suspended by darkness. He blasted out of a bunker to 2 feet and his par putt swirled in for his second straight 69.

Another stroke back were Mickelson and David Duval, the also-rans at the Masters when Woods completed his sweep of the majors. Both had a 69 Friday, although Mickelson again made it thrilling.

He had a hole-in-one at the 175-yard sixth hole, the ball hopping once into the cup. He also had three bogeys, making the kind of mistakes that earned him the dreaded ``best-to-have-never-won-a-major'' label.

Davis Love III was 1 over through five holes Saturday and still in contention.

Thirty-three players had to return to the course early Saturday to complete the second round. They were halted Friday when darkness fell on Southern Hills.

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