LA JOLLA (California): Brad Faxon and Marco Dawson shared the second-round lead on 10-under-par 134 at the US$4.5 million Buick Invitational on Friday, with world number one Tiger Woods in close pursuit only two shots back.
Fred Funk, Jonathan Kaye, Dennis Paulson, first-round leader Arron Oberholser and Briny Baird were all on nine-under. Woods, playing his first event of 2003, was accompanied by Neal Lancaster, Bob Tway and New Zealand's Steven Alker on 136.
Woods, who had surgery to remove fluid around his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in December, showed the rest of the field he meant business with rounds of 70 and 66.
After completing his rain-delayed first round on the easier Torrey Pines North course, Woods lit up the South course for a six-under-par 66 that included a chip-in eagle at the par-five ninth, his last hole of the day.
“The pitch shot is something I've been working on because it's all I could do for a while,” the 27-year-old told reporters.
“I had a pretty good feel for it, and I had to get up there and trust it. It came off great.”
Trusting his swing has been Woods's biggest problem on his comeback to the PGA Tour. In the first round, he hit only two fairways in regulation but he improved to seven of 14 in the second.
“It's just timing and trust,” Woods said. “You have to have trust in it.
“Towards the end I just said 'the hell with it and just get up there and hit it, and let it go'.”
After making the only bogey in his round at the fourth hole, his 13th, Woods closed with a flourish with two birdies and an eagle in five holes.
“I'm a little rusty off the tee,” he said. “If I can get the ball in play, I feel pretty good about my chances from there.”
Dawson, 39, has had an up-and-down professional career, never winning more than $261,214 in a single season, that coming in 1995 when he finished 71st on the money list.
It was also the same year he had his best finish on tour, a second at the Greater Milwaukee Open.
Since turning pro in 1985, Dawson has played in four Qualifying Schools. After losing his playing card in 2001, he played all his golf in 2002 on the Nationwide Tour, where he won his first professional event, the LaSalle Bank Open. – Reuters