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Tiger Woods claws back

Harrison (New York), June 21 (AP): Tiger Woods needed two days and 36 holes to put together one solid round on the soggy Westchester Country Club course.

The eight-time major champion shot a two-under-par 69 Friday in the Buick Classic, leaving him four strokes behind second-round leader Briny Baird.

Woods, playing the back nine first in his morning round, birdied four of the first nine holes to reach eight under, but dropped back with three bogeys and a birdie on the front nine.

In the first round, he was five-under after 10 holes, but settled for a 67.

“To have it going like that and to give it all away with poor putting, that’s a little frustrating,” Woods said. “I’ve played nine holes well each day. I just need to keep it going longer than that.”

Baird followed a career-best 63 with an erratic 69 to top the field at 10 under, a stroke ahead of Retief Goosen (66). Skip Kendall (66) was two strokes back, while Joey Sindelar (69) followed at seven under. Brad Faxon (67), J.L. Lewis (68) and Shigeki Maruyama (69) joined Woods at six under.

Baird had seven birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey. He birdied the first two holes to get to 10 under, but immediately gave the strokes back with the double-bogey on No. 3.

While the rain held off for the second straight day, the soft conditions on the undulating greens made it difficult for players to get close to the hole — with many shots hitting behind the pins and spinning well past the hole.

Players were again allowed to lift, clean and place in the fairways, which were saturated by 7.5 inches (19 cm) of rain in the last three weeks.

Goosen, the 2001 US Open champion, eagled the par-five ninth, hitting a 3-wood approach to three feet, and added four birdies on the back nine.

Kendall is making his first start since slicing off part of his left index finger last month before the Memorial tournament.

The injury has forced him to switch to a reverse-overlap grip, with the right pinkie taking the left index finger’s usual place on the grip and the injured finger moving to the overlap position.

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