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Retief Goosen is especially pleased with his play on the early holes at Royal Liverpool. (Photo: Getty Images)
Retief Goosen is especially pleased with his play on the early holes at Royal Liverpool. (Photo: Getty Images)

Goosen fears he could get left behind yet again

After a two-eagle 66 on Friday, Retief Goosen hopes to put some front-nine pressure on leader Tiger Woods on Saturday. But Goosen concedes that he might be playing for second unless something brings Woods back toward the pack.

HOYLAKE, England (AP) -- With four top-10 finishes in a row, Retief Goosen has been close to contending at the Open Championship. The two-time U.S. Open champion is in the hunt again this week, although he might be chasing second place.

Goosen carded two eagles Friday on the way to a 6-under 66 at Royal Liverpool. At 8-under 136 for two rounds, he was still four shots behind Tiger Woods.

"I am only four behind and I hope I have a chance," the South African said. "But it looks to me that 20-under is going to win."

Prolonged hot, sunny weather and little wind have taken the sting out of the course, which could have proved very difficult under different conditions.

Royal Liverpool is hosting the Open for the first time since 1967, and few in the field of 156 have experience of the reconfigured links. But the baking sun and lack of rain have dried out and flattened down the rough. As a result, there have been so many scores in the 60s that the cut was set at only 1-over-par.

The conditions are in sharp contrast to last month's U.S. Open, which Geoff Ogilvy won at 5-over.

"If the wind was howling, the leading score would probably be 4-under," Goosen said. "But we are just very lucky with the way the weather has been. The rough is down and dry and there is nothing the organizers can do about it."

Starting the day at 2-under, Goosen picked up a birdie at the third and then drove a tee shot to 10 feet at the 528-yard fifth to make his first eagle. He holed a 25-footer at the par-5 16.

Goosen's only problem was at the short 15th, where he found a bunker with his tee shot and made bogey. It could have been worse because he discovered a stone immediately behind his ball. He was allowed to move it before playing his shot.

"At least I know I am good on the front nine, so you can put pressure early on Tiger," said Goosen, who knows that he needs Woods to slip up badly if he is to make up four strokes and three on Ernie Els.

"At the end of the day a win is a win and it doesn't matter if it is 5-under-par or 20-under-par," he said. "At major championships you are always going to see the top players rise to the top, and that is what you are seeing already."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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