MIYAZAKI, Japan -- This time, defending champion Tiger Woods
is finding the competition tough at the Dunlop Phoenix.
Woods, who easily won this tournament last year, shot a
3-under-par 67 Friday to pull within one stroke of leader Jim Furyk
after two rounds.
Furyk had the day's best score, a 64 that featured seven birdies
and a bogey to move into the lead alone at 9-under 131. Woods
shares second with David Duval, who led after the opening round and
shot a 68 Friday.
"I know I can win around here and know what it takes to win,"
Woods said. "This is a course that seems to fit Jim's game, but
hopefully I can drive better the rest of the way and make the putts
I need to win."
Woods entered the final round last year with a 10-stroke lead
and shot a 67 to finish eight strokes ahead of Japan's Ryoken
The world's No. 1 player trailed Duval by one stroke after the
first round and had five birdies against a pair of bogeys Friday.
"I'm very happy, considering I missed a bunch of putts today
and didn't drive as well as yesterday," Woods said. "To be only
one back is pretty good."
Furyk said: "I had the hot putter and was able to put myself in
a position to win."
He was looking forward to playing with Woods and Duval on
"All three of us have played a lot of golf together," Furyk
said. "We're good friends and it would be a fun pairing for all of
Woods, who had bogeys on the second and sixth holes, was not
satisfied with his driving.
"I basically had three bad drives and they cost me a couple of
shots," Woods said. "I've got a few things I need to work on in
practice but should be OK for tomorrow."
It was another strong outing for Duval, who had four birdies on
the back nine after a pair of bogeys on Nos. 1 and 10.
"I feel fine," Duval said. "I'm gaining confidence. I was 2
over par after the turn and to turn it around and make those
birdies coming in makes me confident about what I'm doing."
Duval, who has won 13 times on the PGA Tour and was ranked No. 1
in 1999, has made the cut only once this year -- at the Texas Open
in September. He has been hampered by back and shoulder problems,
and his game began to deteriorate in 2002. His last victory was at
this event in 2001.
"I've always felt at home here," Duval said. "I get along
with the people here and just feel that it's one of the nicest
places I've ever been to."
Woods is coming off two runner-up finishes -- at the HSBC
Champions in Shanghai last week and the Tour Championship two weeks
ago. He's looking to get back on the winning track at the $1.7
million tournament, the richest on the Japanese tour.
After Japan, Woods will return to the United States to close the
year with appearances at the PGA Grand Slam in Hawaii, the Skins
Game and the Target World Challenge in California.