Ernie Els has been chasing titles all over the world. Playing against Tiger Woods for the first time this year hasn't changed a thing.

Els birdied his first four holes, then finished strong after a five-hour rain delay to shoot a 7-under-par 65 and take the lead among those who completed the second round yesterday at the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando.

"If I get better to the level I want to play at, I'm going to play a lot with Tiger, because he's on that level," Els said.

Els was at 5-under 139 -- a score that would have missed the cut last week at the Honda Classic -- for a one-stroke lead over Peter Lonard, Steve Lowery and Niclas Fasth.

Aaron Baddeley birdied his first three holes and was at 6 under, while Woods had four birdies in seven holes and was at 4 under. They were among 61 players who were still on the course when the round was suspended by darkness.

"We knew we weren't going to finish today," Woods said. "You try to make the most of it. I made a couple of mistakes but still ended up under par for the day. I'm very pleased."

Among those who finished was Arnold Palmer, the 73-year-old tournament host who's playing in what likely will be his final PGA Tour event. He shot 85, giving him a two-day total of 172.

Jack Nicklaus bogeyed his final two holes for a 76 to miss the cut at 14-over 158. He said he will play Augusta National in the next two weeks before deciding whether to compete in the Masters for the 44th time.

Woods, going after his fourth straight victory at Bay Hill, got a scare when his girlfriend collapsed outside the clubhouse from food poisoning and dehydration. Woods accompanied Elin Nordegren to the hospital, but he later said she would be fine.

* LPGA: The top three women golfers in the world found themselves just about where they expected to be -- on top the leader board of the Safeway Ping tournament in Phoenix.

But sharing the top spot with Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak was new to Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. She shot a 6-under 66 to match the LPGA superstars at 11 under midway through the second tournament of the season.

"I have fun playing with these girls," Meunier-Lebouc said. "You're scared, but you want to do good."

* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Jim Ahern shot a 7-under 64 for his lowest round of the year, giving him a one-shot lead at the Toshiba Senior Classic in Newport Beach, Calif.