Tiger Woods moved into a narrow Tour Championship lead at East Lake Golf Club midway through the second round of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup finale.
American Sean O’Hair had begun another hot day in Atlanta, Georgia, at four under par as a one-shot leader over Woods, Padraig Harrington and Stewart Cink with a fellow major winner, reigning US Open champion Lucas Glover, a further shot back at two under in fifth place.
Yet, as the front-runners reached halfway on the par-70, 7,154-yard course, Woods moved clear by one shot at the top of the leaderboard with a birdie at the ninth hole.
World number one Woods was playing with Ireland’s Harrington in the penultimate group ahead of Open champion Cink and O’Hair.
It was their eighth round together this year, and Harrington struck first blood in this duel with a birdie at the par-four fourth to move into a share of the lead at four under.
The gap widened as Woods then three-putted the par-four fifth for bogey and slipped to two under par but parity was restored at the par-four seventh when the Irishman overshot the green on the way to a bogey while Woods nailed his approach shot to seven feet from the hole and birdied from there.
Both Woods and world number eight Harrington birdied the par-four eighth while behind them Cink birdied the seventh as O’Hair bogeyed the same hole and briefly the three chasers had swapped places with the overnight leader.
Then, at the par-five ninth, as Harrington could only take par from the easiest hole on the course, Woods sunk a mid-range birdie putt to move into the outright lead at five under.
South African Ernie Els got into the mix, reaching three under with two holes to play with his fifth birdie of the day at the 16th, all carded following a bogey at the sixth.
Also four under for the day was Kenny Perry, who had moved to two under with one hole left to play.
England’s Luke Donald was a further shot back having reached the 12th hole, one under for his day and the week so far, while at level par, David Toms had recorded the low round of the day, a 66, world number three Phil Mickelson made amends for an opening 73 with a six-birdie, three-bogey 67.
A victory for Woods, as FedEx Cup points leader, would guarantee the world number one a US dollars 10 million bonus in addition to the USD 1.35million winner’s cheque.
Harrington, sixth in the standings, would need to win and have Woods finish third or lower.
Of the four men between Woods and three-time major winner Harrington, all of whom need to win to guarantee them the FedEx Cup title and bonus, third-placed Jim Furyk was best placed, four shots back at level par after a 68.
Second placed Steve Stricker and fifth-placed Heath Slocum were at one over for the week after 14 holes and a round of 68 respectively, with Zach Johnson two over after 13.
Australian Geoff Ogilvy propped up the 30-man field at eight over following a second-round 73.