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March 23 2012

10:50 PM

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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO — The second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard is over with Tiger Woods and Charlie Wi tied for the lead. Let us know what you think about how the day unfolded by leaving your comments below.

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6:50 p.m. – Two rounds at Bay Hill are in the books and there’s an extraordinarily familiar name at the top of the leaderboard, tied with another only real aficionados of the game probably recognize. Tiger Woods, a six-time champion at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, fired a 65 to move to 10 under and grab the headlines while Charlie Wi’s 68 pulled him into a tie there, as well.

“I’ve known Tiger since junior golf days,” Wi said. “… I’m comfortable with him. Hopefully I can get some of his energy toward me.”

The two are one stroke ahead of Graeme McDowell, who set the tone for the day with a 63 in the morning, and Jason Dufner, who held the overnight lead with Wi. Justin Rose, a winner two weeks ago at Doral, is alone in fifth at 6 under while Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh, Chris Stroud, Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson are another shot back.

The cut was made at 4 under. Among those with the weekend off are major champions David Toms, Mike Weir, David Duval and Stewart Cink.

6:39 p.m. – Charlie Wi rolled in a 26-footer at No. 9, his final hole of the day, to tie Tiger Woods for the lead at 10 under. Wi, a Californian like Woods but four years his elder, ended up with a 68 and in Saturday’s final group.

6:18 p.m. – This is how Tiger Woods summed up his 65 on Friday: “It was a solid round of golf. I felt like I actually hit it better yesterday than I did today. I've made more putts today for sure. I felt great over the putter. My speed was good. I left a couple putts dead short, right in the center of the hole. Actually it really could have been a really low round today. A lot of positives today.” 

6:11 p.m. – A 14-foot birdie putt at the par-3 seventh hole has moved Charlie Wi to 9 under. If he birdies one of his last two holes, he’ll be playing with Tiger Woods in the final group on Saturday.

5:57 p.m. – While Tiger Woods grabbed the spotlight on Friday afternoon, Charlie Wi keeps plugging along.  He bounced back from a bogey at the third hole, his 12th of the day, with consecutive birdies to get to 8 under and two shots behind Woods.

5:33 p.m. – Tiger Woods narrowly missed a 23-footer at the 18th hole, which would have been his third straight birdie, and finished with a 65. He owns a one-stroke lead at Bay Hill as he seeks to break a PGA TOUR victory drought that has stretched to 30 months.

5:30 p.m. – Playing partners Justin Rose and Webb Simpson both birdied the 16th hole to move to 6 under for the tournament. They’re tied for fifth, four strokes behind Woods. Rose, who won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago, actually had a 13-footer for eagle there.

5:18 p.m. – The six-time Arnold Palmer Invitational champion is now alone at the top of the leaderboard. Tiger Woods made a 15-footer for birdie at the 17th hole to move to 10 under, one stroke ahead of Jason Dufner and Graeme McDowell. He’s 7 under on his round.

5:05 p.m. – Tiger Woods thought he hit his second shot in the pond that guards the green at the par-5 16th. He just cleared the water, though, and two-putted from 52 feet for a birdie that gave him a share of the lead at 9 under – three strokes clear of the pack.

4:52 p.m. – Webb Simpson, who attended Wake Forest on the Arnold Palmer scholarship, has made a dramatic turnaround in the second round. He opened with a 73 but is now 5 under for the tournament after making six birdies in his first 14 holes on Friday.

4:35 p.m. – Phil Mickelson drained a 23-footer for birdie at No. 13 – his third birdie in his last four holes – and he’s now 2 under for the tournament. Still well behind the leaders, but Mickelson is moving in a positive direction again.

4:27 p.m. – According to the Associated Press, Ernie Els has a mathematical chance of creeping into the top 50 – and earning that coveted Masters spot -- if he finishes third or higher on Sunday at Bay Hill.

4:18 p.m. – By now, we all know that Ernie Els is in danger of missing the Masters for the first time since 1994. He’s moving in the right direction, though, with three birdies in his first 12 holes to get to 4 under. He needs to move 12 spots into the top 50 in the world on Monday or win this week or next to qualify.

4:04 p.m. – Tiger Woods has just birdied his third par 5 of the day to get to 8 under. He’s tied with Charlie Wi, one stroke behind the leaders, and is now 106 under on the par 5s at Bay Hill for his career.

4:02 p.m. – Phil Mickelson has finally gotten back into red numbers with consecutive birdies at the 10th and 11th holes. He made a 7-footer at No. 10 and followed by draining a putt of 21 feet at the next to move to 2 under for the day and 1 under for the tournament.

3:48 p.m. – Charlie Wi, who held the overnight lead with Jason Dufner, is hanging tough Friday afternoon. He made a 7-footer at the 11th hole, his second of the day, and got up and down from the back fringe at the par-5 16th to move to 8 under. He’s one behind Dufner and Graeme McDowell.

3:40 p.m. – Phil Mickelson heads to the back nine where he started the day, at 1 over for the tournament. He two-putted the fifth hole from 17 feet for birdie but gave that shot back on the next par 5 where he his his drive into the water and made bogey.

3:33 p.m. – K.J. Choi, who is bidding for the third leg of the Sunshine State slam, has birdied two of his first seven holes on Friday afternoon to move to 5 under for the tournament. Choi, who is a two-time winner in Tampa, defends his title at THE PLAYERS Championship in May.

3:15 p.m. – Justin Rose, who won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago, is playing one group behind Tiger Woods. His first seven holes mimicked those of Woods, too, as Rose reeled off four straight birdies starting at No. 4. He bogeyed No. 8, though, so the talented Brit is 6 under.

3 p.m. – Earlier this week, MasterCard announced that it had renewed its sponsorship through 2016. But it will making an additional $200,000 donation to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies if one of its Ambassadors should win – and two are currently in the top 10. Graeme McDowell, in fact, is tied for the lead while Ian Poulter is five strokes back.

2:40 p.m. – Four straight birdies have pulled Tiger Woods within two strokes of the lead. The latest was a 32-footer at the par-3 seventh. He’s 7 under now as he seeks a seventh title at Bay Hill.

2:35 p.m. – The 63 Graeme McDowell posted was not lost on his fellow competitors. Ian Poulter, who shot 69 Friday and is 4 under for the tournament, just tweeted: “@Graeme_McDowell Oi what bloody course was you playing today. 9 under that's a joke. Great playing mate.”

2:20 p.m. – Graeme McDowell’s round of 9 under ties the lowest ever in relation to par at Bay Hill. Andy Bean shot 62 in the second round on the way to his 1981 victory but the par at that time was 71.

2:05 p.m. – Consecutive birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 have boosted Tiger Woods up the leaderboard. The birdies came from 7 and 11 feet, respectively, and the six-time champ is 5 under.

1:45 p.m. – Don’t look now but defending champion Martin Laird has vaulted up the leaderboard. The Scot, who now makes his home in Scottsdale, shot a bogey-free round of 68 and is in the mix at 4 under.

1:25 p.m. – A 23-footer for birdie at the seventh hole has moved Vijay Singh to 5 under for the tournament with two holes remaining. His best finish this year is a tie for 13th at the Farmers Insurance Open where he tied for 13th. His last wins came in 2008 when he won the FedExCup.

1:11 p.m. – Tiger Woods is now on the golf course. He two-putted from 11 feet for his first par.

1:07 p.m. – Graeme McDowell is undoubtedly giving Jason Dufner something to think about as he climbs the leaderboard. McDowell, whose U.S. base is in Orlando, just made an 8-footer for eagle at the 16th hole to close to within one at 8 under.

1:03 p.m. – Jason Dufner says he’s tried to stay even keeled this week at Bay Hill. “Just out there working, doing my job and staying in the moment and trying to hit good shots. The excitement will come trying to win this tournament.”

12:50 p.m. – Sergio Garcia has gained a couple more shots on Jason Dufner after making consecutive birdies at Nos. 4 and 5. He two-putted from 15 feet on the par 5 and followed with a 12-footer at the fifth. The Spaniard is 5 under with three holes remaining.

12:30 p.m. – Maybe it helps to have a birthday this week. Jason Dufner, who owns a three-shot lead, turns 35 on Saturday and Johnson Wagner, who is five strokes off the pace in a tie for seventh, turns 32 today.

12:20 p.m. – Bubba Watson got up and down from the left side of the fourth green for a birdie to move into a tie for second at 6 under with Graeme McDowell. The Northern Irishman has played his first 13 holes in 6 under and the two are tied with Charlie Wi, who tees off in 72 minutes.

12:04 p.m. – Ian Poulter is working on what could be his best round since being diagnosed with pneumonia earlier this month. The sartorial Englishman started on the back nine and made the turn in 34. He’s just birdied both par-5s on the front to move to 5 under for the tournament.

11:49 a.m. – A 9-foot eagle putt at the 12th hole has vaulted Johnson Wagner to 5 under and into a tie with Graeme McDowell and Bubba Watson. Watson, you will remember, won the Sony Open in Hawaii and tied for second the following week at the Humana Challenge. The mustachioed man, who was January’s Avis Player of the Month, is one of nine players this week who could take over No. 1 in the FedExCup.

11:38 a.m. – Sergio Garcia continues to impress, shooting 33 on the back nine, his first of the day, to move into the top 10 on the leaderboard at 3 under. He won twice on the European Tour last year but his last victory on the PGA TOUR came at the 2008 PLAYERS Championship.

11:20 a.m. – Don’t look now but Jason Dufner is trying to lap the field. He got up and down for birdie at the par-5 fourth hole to move to 10 under. He leads Charlie Wi by four shots.

11:11 a.m. – Ryan Moore’s first round was relatively indifferent until he came to the seventh hole, his 16th of the day, and made an ace that moved him into red numbers at 1 under. He’s built on that spectacular 5-iron on Friday, too, making four birdies over his first 11 holes. He’s now 5 under for the tournament.

11 a.m. – Jason Dufner isn’t the only player prospering early during the second round. Graeme McDowell, who missed the cut in his last two starts at Bay Hill, has soared into contention with a front-nine 32. The affable Northern Irishman is now 4 under for the tournament and the day.

10:45 a.m. – Jason Dufner’s  putter continues to cooperate on Friday. He started on the back nine and rolled in birdie putts of 29 and 8 feet on his first two holes to break out of that tie with Charlie Wi. He then reeled off nine straight pars before making another birdie, rolling in a 7-footer at the third hole to move to 9 under for the tournament. Wi doesn’t tee off until 1:42 p.m.

10:30 a.m. – It’s another warm, sunny day at Bay Hill with temperatures expected to settle into the mid-80s. The breezes are light, topping out at between 8-10 mph, but there is a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

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