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GOGEL STEALS THE SHOW WITH CAREER-BEST 62

Tiger Woods was 2-over par and quickly losing ground to the leaders on a course that's usually a pushover for players with far less ability.

Woods has never played Poppy Hills particularly well, so it was no surprise when he let out a heavy sigh and said, "It feels like Groundhog Day."

It was, in more ways than one Friday.

Back in the picture at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was Matt Gogel, the victim of Woods' spectacular comeback last year. He tied the course record at Poppy Hills with a career-best 62 that gave him a three-stroke lead over Vijay Singh.

Singh was part of the drama last year, too. He was one stroke back going into the final round and finished in a tie for second with Gogel.

Woods wasted another soft, still and sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula with a 1-over 73 on a course that has five par 5s.

Where did that leave him? Eight strokes behind, the same spot he was in after 36 holes last year.

Maybe it's just a coincidence that comedian Bill Murray is back at Pebble Beach. He starred in the movie "Groundhog Day" about a TV meteorologist stuck on the same day.

Gogel can only hope for a better outcome.

"It would be a heck of a story if it continues this way," he said. "But we're only halfway through. It's a long way until Sunday."

Gogel was in control last year, cruising through the Cliffs of Dooms until he played the final eight holes in 4 over and Woods put together a comeback that ranks among his best, an eagle-birdie-par-birdie finish.

Gogel has seen the replay of Woods' holing that wedge shot from the fairway on No. 15 more times than he would like. He also has reflected on his own mistakes, which haunted him the rest of his rookie season.

After a nearly flawless round on another gorgeous day, the 29-year-old from Kansas has given himself another chance.

"I was anxious to come back because I love this place," Gogel said. "It wasn't like I was coming back for unfinished business."

With birdies on the last three holes, Gogel finished at 131 and managed to separate himself from the pack after two pristine days at Pebble.

The pack did not include Woods.

Despite playing the same course as Gogel and Singh -- and the easiest of three in the rotation -- Woods bungled the first two pars 5s and was over par for the second time in his last five rounds.

"My swing was never in sync," Woods said.

Singh, who wound up tied with Gogel two strokes behind Woods last year, also played Poppy and had a 68 to get to 134.

The group at 135 included Kemper Open champion Tom Scherrer and Frank Lickliter, who was one stroke behind the late Payne Stewart after 54 holes two years ago and never got a chance when the final round was washed out. That shouldn't be a problem this year, not with that stranger known as the sun gracing all three courses.

"This is the most sunshine we've seen in the last five years, all packed into two days," Lickliter said after his 66 at Poppy Hills.

Phil Mickelson, who won Pebble Beach in 1998 when the final round was pushed back to August, had a 66 at Spyglass Hill and was at 8-under 136 going into today's third round (3 p.m., Chs. 4, 9).

Around the links

Bob Eastwood scored 14 points under the Modified Stableford scoring system to take a three-point lead after the first round of the Royal Caribbean Classic in Key Biscayne, Fla. Andy North and Rex Caldwell opened with 11s on the Crandon Park course. Under the Modified Stableford system, players receive 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus 1 for bogey and minus 3 for double bogey or higher. Bob Gilder made his first senior start with seven points. The six-time PGA Tour winner won the senior qualifying school.

Denmark's Steen Tinning birdied the final four holes in a 6-under 66 for a share of the lead with Australia's Nick O'Hern in the Heineken Classic in Perth, Australia. O'Hern shot a 69 for a 9-under 135 total. Australia's Greg Norman and defending champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand were four back at 139.

The top 50 players in the world rankings on May 1 will be fully exempt into the U.S. Open, the U.S. Golf Association's executive committee ruled Friday. Under the previous guidelines, only the top 20 players from the previous year's rankings were fully exempt.

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