Wi has two rounds to fight off doubts, and many big names

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February 10, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Charlie Wi, at 40 years old and 162 starts into a seven-year career, has never won on the PGA TOUR.

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Another 68 for Tiger
Tiger Woods had a start-and-stop day at Monterey Peninsula, making three early birdies but just one more over his final 11 holes. He's 6 under for the tournament, six back of the lead. TOUR Report

But plenty of the players behind him on the leaderboard at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he's 12 under through two rounds, have.

That includes Dustin Johnson, a two-time winner here who is alone in second and three shots back.

It also includes 48-year-old Vijay Singh, who won this tournament in 2004 but hasn't won anywhere in four years. He's four shots back and tied for third.

Ditto Padraig Harrington, who started over with his swing after winning the 2008 PGA Championship. It was his third major championship in a year -- and the last time he won on the PGA TOUR. Friday he shot 66.

Hunter Mahan, runner-up here a year ago, is another shot back, as is two-time AT&T winner Phil Mickelson.

One back from Mahan and Mickelson? Tiger Woods, who carded a second straight 68 Friday, though failed to take advantage of the easiest course on the property, Monterey Peninsula.

The other opponent lurking near Wi? Confidence, or a lack of it.

"I know the next two days are going to be very tough because there are going to be a lot of demons ahead and doubts," said Wi, who shot a 3-under 69 at Pebble Beach. "Those are the challenges I'm looking forward to to see how I handle myself."

If any of the aforementioned players know how to handle themselves around here, Johnson and Woods do.

In Johnson's two wins here, he was a combined 31 under, and that included the 2009 event that was cut one round short because of weather.

Judging by his post-round comments, you get the feeling Johnson feels like he has something to prove, too, after an up-and-down even-par 72 Friday.

"I just pissed away some shots," said Johnson after making just as many bogeys -- four -- as birdies. "I hit some poor pitch shots, just really bad. They weren't even pitch shots. They were dink chips; ones that you're trying to hole, and I just hit them terrible."

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Woods, of course, has made Pebble Beach his personal playground at times. He won this event in 2000, then followed with a record-setting performance here in the U.S. Open later that summer.

Yes, that was more than a decade ago but it's pretty clear that Woods is growing more and more comfortable -- read: accurate.

"I got my ball-striking to where I feel very comfortable," Woods said. "I just need to make a couple of putts to get on a roll. Today was just a spot where I didn't hit the ball in the correct spots to give myself these looks."

Now it will be up to a newly confident Wi to fend off those pursuing him, and those demons.

"I believe that I have more self-belief than I've ever had since I've been out here," Wi said. "I know I've got a good swing, and I'm a good putter, but I've always doubted myself a lot. When things don't go well, I always got down on myself very easy. I feel like I'm getting over that hump."

We'll find out if he can in the next two days.

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