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Golf roundup

Sand, wind don't faze Woods

He leads Dubai by one stroke

Tiger Woods had to blast out of a bunker on the par-5 10th hole, but he still managed par. Tiger Woods had to blast out of a bunker on the par-5 10th hole, but he still managed par. (Peter Morrison/Associated Press)
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Associated Press / February 2, 2008

Tiger Woods managed it all - the wind blowing, the sand swirling, and the photographers clicking.

He shot a 1-under-par 71 yesterday, making birdies on two of the last three holes for a one-stroke lead halfway through the Dubai Desert Classic in United Arab Emirates. Woods was at 8-under 136, and a victory will give him seven wins in eight starts. He also won in Dubai in 2006.

"It was not a pretty day out there," he said.

Damien McGrane, who is ranked 319th and has never won as a pro, shot a 69 and was a stroke behind. He will be paired with Woods in the third round today at Emirates Golf Club.

"I know he's Irish but that's about it," Woods said.

Gusts reaching 30 miles per hour shook the bunkers and desert terrain. Sand flew in faces and created a haze. Woods wore sunglasses but said he was still "chewing sand all day."

Defending champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden shot a 70 and was two strokes behind Woods. He shared third with Thomas Levet of France, who had a 71.

McGrane now must contend with the large crowds that follow Woods from hole to hole.

"There's a lot of distractions here," Woods told him. "I know there's a policy with cameras, but that's not really happening out here."

Course marshals repeatedly had to ask the galleries watching Woods and his two partners - Colin Montgomerie and Niclas Fasth - to stand still and put their cameras away.

Before he putted at the fourth hole, Woods asked photographers to move out of his playing path. On the sixth hole, Montgomerie's caddie motioned for a spectator to put away his camera - moments after a marshal asked the same thing.

As for McGrane, about a dozen or so fans followed his play. He was tied with Woods at 7 under until the world's No. 1 player birdied the 18th hole. Now they get to play together, and mild weather was expected today - partly sunny and decreasing winds.

"That's our ambition, play alongside him, see how the game is played, see what we should be doing," McGrane said. "Because, obviously, he sets the mark at the moment."

Woods's win at Torrey Pines in San Diego last weekend was his fourth straight and 62d career title, tying Arnold Palmer for fourth place on the PGA Tour list.

Woods, who led by two strokes after the first round, bogeyed the first hole after driving into the rough. Bogeys followed on the 12th and 15th. He also missed some 10- and 12-foot putts.

PGA - J.B. Holmes, the FBR Open winner as a rookie two years ago, shot a 6-under 65 to share the lead with Doug LaBelle II (64) at 9-under 133 among players who finished the second round.

A 90-minute frost delay to start the day in Scottsdale, Ariz., left 45 golfers on the course when play was halted because of darkness.

One of them, Camilo Villegas, was tied for the lead at 9 under through 12 holes. Two were at 8 under on the course - Bill Haas through 13 holes and Ben Crane through 14.

They will complete the round today before the cut is made, then the third round will begin.

Pat Perez and Nick O'Hern shot 65s and were one behind the leaders at 8 under. Charles Howell, Stuart Appleby, Briny Baird, and Robert Allenby were 7 under.

Two-time champion Phil Mickelson had four birdies, but three-putted from 7 feet for a double bogey on the par-4, 464-yard ninth hole. He came back to sink a short birdie putt on the par-5 13th and chip in for birdie on the par-4 14th. Mickelson was 5 under, four shots off the lead, through 14 holes.

With the Super Bowl in nearby Glendale drawing even more interest to the big party that is the FBR Open, a record second-round crowd of 120,891 attended on another clear, crisp day.

Holmes's 65 marked the seventh time he has shot in the 60s in eight rounds at the FBR. "You always have more confidence when you get on a course that you really, really like," he said.

Ladies European - Amateur Kristie Smith shot a 4-under 69 (5-under 141) for a two-stroke lead over South Korea's Shin Ji-yai and was three ahead of defending champion Karrie Webb after the second round of the Women's Australian Open in Melbourne.

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