Par-5s key for Tiger at TPC Boston

NORTON, Mass. -- In his 17-year pro career, Tiger Woods has shown dominance on many courses. Bay Hill, Muirfield Village, Firestone, Torrey Pines and Augusta National are a few that have been surgically handled repeatedly by the 74-time PGA Tour winner.

Tiger's three victories this season came on venues where he had previous wins. In his prime, almost any golf course that he played suited his game. A few that he didn't like, such as the Westchester (N.Y.) Country Club, eventually fell off his schedule.

TPC Boston might not be one of Tiger's all-time favorites, but he is certainly very comfortable on the Gil Hanse redesign. Woods won here in the 2006 Deutsche Bank Championship and has three other top-10s in seven starts at the event.

On Saturday, with a 3-under-par 68, Woods had his 22nd under-par day in 30 career rounds on the TPC Boston course.

His 10-under-par total leaves him 2 shots back of the 36-hole leader, Rory McIlroy, heading into the last two rounds of the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

"I'm happy with the way I hit it," Woods said. "I didn't putt very good. I didn't really make anything. Hopefully tomorrow I will be a lot better."

On Sunday at TPC Boston, Tiger should make easy work of a golf course that suits his strength as one of the longer hitters on tour.

"If you look at the overall list of champions here, they're all big hitters," Woods said. "This golf course lends itself to that because it's the par-5s. If you can play the par-5s well here, you're going to do well here."

Yet on Saturday, Tiger birdied only one of the three par-5s. In the first round, he birdied two of the three, but he hasn't broken par on the 600-yard 7th hole on either day. In Round 2, he couldn't birdie the easiest hole on the course, the par-5 18th, which yielded 31 birdies and six eagles on Saturday.

In a back-nine 30 on Saturday, McIlroy eagled the 18th. Sean O'Hair also had an eagle there to make the cut on the number at 2 over.

Tiger will probably need to play the par-5s at least 3 under each of the next two days to give himself the best chance of beating McIlroy and a host of other strong players on the leaderboard that includes Louis Oosthuizen, Ryan Moore and Jason Dufner.

While he hasn't fared well over the final two rounds at tournaments in recent weeks, Tiger is in contention here on a golf course where he has a stronger record than any of the other players on the leaderboard. He should put that advantage, wisdom and know-how to work over the next 36 holes.

At Bethpage Black, Woods wore himself down so mentally with the poor condition of the greens on the weekend that he forgot that from tee to green he had played the course better than anyone ever has at the 2002 U.S. Open. He's so preoccupied sometimes with details that he forgets some of the good things that helped him on particular courses.

McIlroy doesn't have Tiger's experience at TPC Boston. Sure, weather conditions, setups and pin placements greatly influence how a course will play from day to day, but the basic DNA of most tour courses doesn't change from year to year.

All the players know how to get around a track -- where to miss and so on -- but very few have had Tiger's consistent success at so many different PGA Tour venues.

So over these next two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Tiger not only has to prove to himself that he can still close the deal in the last 36 holes of an event, but also that he still embodies something of the player who has owned this course and many others in the past.