After a dismal first round left him on the wrong side of the cut at the Western Open, Tiger Woods figured he could get right back in it with a 64 or 65.
He was close.
Woods shot a 5-under-par 66 yesterday, putting him six strokes behind leader Chris Couch and giving him at least a chance to make a move this weekend in Lemont, Ill.
"It's going to be hard to shoot low this afternoon," said Woods, who is at 3-under 139. "Hopefully they won't run away from me, and I can go ahead and play a good round tomorrow and get myself back in it."
Couch, who earned a spot here by winning the Nationwide Tour's LaSalle Bank Open last month, is at 9-under 133 after a 67. Tim Herron (66), Jim Furyk (70) and Duffy Waldorf (65) are one stroke behind.
Ben Curtis, who shared the first-round lead with Furyk and Todd Fischer, shot an even-par 71 and is two strokes off the lead. Fischer (72) is at 136 with Steve Flesch.
"It's still a long tournament," Couch said. "I'm trying not to think too far ahead. I'm going to take it shot by shot and keep trying to have some fun."
Starting on the back nine, Woods eagled the par-5 15th to get back to even par, putting his second shot within eight feet. After another birdie on 18, he found big trouble on No. 2.
At 180 yards, No. 2 is the shortest hole on Cog Hill's Dubsdread Course, and a straight shot to the green. But Woods shanked his tee shot, landing about 30 yards off the green and behind a tree. He had no choice but to punch out, and the ball skipped into a trap in front of the green. He blasted out to within 3 feet, then tapped in for a bogey that dropped him back to par. Woods then recorded three birdies in four holes.
* LPGA TOUR: Annika Sorenstam survived a big scare in the second round of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship in Gladstone, N.J., holing a 30-foot birdie putt on the 21st hole to beat Tina Barrett, who is winless since taking the 1989 Ocean State Open in her first season on the LPGA Tour.
While Sorenstam avoided an upset, second-seeded Cristie Kerr and No. 4 Paula Creamer were eliminated. The top-seeded Sorenstam and No. 8 Candie Kung are the only players seeded 12 or higher to survive the first two rounds.
Sorenstam will play 48th-seeded Rachel Hetherington in the third round today. The quarterfinals will follow this afternoon and the semifinals and final are tomorrow.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Ron Streck, the first player to use a metal wood in competition on the PGA Tour, had a 9-under 62 and held a two-stroke lead over Craig Stadler in the opening round of the Commerce Bank Championship in East Meadow, N.Y.
Dave Eichelberger, Wayne Levi, Darrell Kestner and Gary McCord had 65s. Two-time defending champion Jim Thorpe shot a 68.
* VSGA STATE AMATEUR: In Richmond, Billy Hurley overcame a huge comeback by Keith Decker and earned the opportunity to defend his Virginia title by beating the two-time winner in 21 holes.
Hurley, of Leesburg, will play stroke-play medalist Jason Pool of Dunn Loring in today's 36-hole championship. Pool made a go-ahead par at the par-3 17th hole and beat Ryan Sypniewski 1-up in the other semifinal.