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His challengers hope Tiger Woods has a quiet weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)
His challengers hope Tiger Woods has a quiet weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)

Notebook: Even Woods knows there's a long way to go

Plus, Tiger Woods talks tennis and travel with an Italian interviewer, Nick Faldo asks Woods for a parting gift, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy believe plenty of players are still in the hunt, David Duval makes another major cut, and more.

By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor

HOYLAKE, England -- With Tiger Woods' early romp at Royal Liverpool on Friday, many had the feeling that the two weekend rounds in the Open Championship were just a technicality, as Woods is essentially the game's ultimate closer.

After two rounds, did Tiger think it was over? If not, why?

"Because I'm not here with the [claret] jug," he laughed. "We've got 36 more holes to go. Unless there's some kind of rainstorm coming in and it's canceled after two days, we have a long way to go."

MAMA MIA!: Being Tiger Woods isn't always easy, but it can be humorous. After finishing his second round Friday, Woods visited the media center to take questions from the press.

Here is the exchange he had with an Italian reporter:

Q. I come from another country and I come from another sport. I come from Italy, and I come from tennis. A few minutes ago, Nick Faldo talked about yourself and Bjorn Borg. He said you are able to control your emotions in many situations like Bjorn Borg. What do you know about Bjorn Borg? What do you know about tennis? And what do you know about Italy, if you can?

Tiger: Where do I start with this one?

Tennis, I'm an avid tennis fan. I watch tennis all the time. I was a huge [Pete] Sampras fan and now obviously, I'm a huge [Roger] Federer fan. I just love watching them play and anytime I get a chance to watch them play, I do.

I do follow tennis quite a bit, but as far as any comparison to Bjorn Borg, he's one of the greatest ever to play the sport. I guess any comparison with somebody that's played their sport and been considered one of the greatest of all ties is awfully flattering because he did it on different surfaces and he was able to control his emotions and played in different generations. What he was able to do has been truly remarkable, especially going from -- obviously going from the French [Open] to Wimbledon and making that transition, not everybody can do that.

Italy, lots of garlic. I've never been to Italy. I've always wanted to go, I just haven't gotten my chance. My wife has been there a bunch of times and she loves it there and I just wish I could get there and hopefully someday will.

FALDO THE PRANKSTER: Much was made by the British press at Royal Liverpool early in the week about Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo playing together over the first two rounds.

It's known that Woods isn't a big fan of Faldo as a golf analyst on ABC, reason being Faldo has criticized Woods' new swing developed through coach Hank Haney a number of times over the past two years.

Bookmakers in England were even giving odds of 25-to-1 that Woods and Faldo wouldn't finish their first round without having a fist-fight. Of course, to the dismay of the British tabloids, that never played out.

Instead, Woods and Faldo were as cordial as two golfers could be. Faldo easily missed the cut with rounds of 77-71.

Faldo's son, Matthew, was caddying for him. When they finished playing, Faldo and Woods had a quick word as they shook hands on 18.

"I said, 'As you?re not using your driver, could Matthew have it? '" Faldo said, joking about the extreme number tee shots Woods elected to hit with long irons. "He only hit it once in two days, but he seems to know what he's doing. He's got a good game plan. If he keeps cruising like this, I predict if the weather is good he'll get to 20-under and good luck. Who's going to beat him then at 21-under, 22-under to win? We shall see."

AUSSIES ON TIGER: Twenty-six-year-old Australian Adam Scott shot a 3-under 69 Friday. That put him at 7-under 137 and six shots behind Woods.

Following his round, Scott was asked if it was demoralizing to see Woods so far ahead and -- in effect -- was the rest of the field simply playing for second place now?

"No, definitely not," a confident Scott replied. "This course can bite anyone, even Tiger, and he's not fool-proof. He is obviously playing very well and we know how he goes if he's playing well over four rounds. But my goal is to get a couple back on him tomorrow and then you never know what can happen on Sunday. It's going to take some great golf to beat him though, obviously."

Recently crowned U.S. Open champion and fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy agreed with Scott in his assessment of Woods.

"I don't think anyone is scared of him," said Ogilvy, who was 4-under 140 through two rounds. "I think it's more of a case of everyone thinking here we go again, but he's quite a few years removed from that sort of form. He did win at St. Andrews last year, but he didn't win as convincingly as he did in 2000. ? I think guys believe they can beat him now. You would rather he not be way out in front after two rounds, but if he is at the top of the leader board there are plenty of guys who can catch him, including me."

DUVAL IN THE HUNT: Don't look now, but the long-suffering game that belongs to David Duval is finally showing signs of a turnaround. The man who was once ranked No. 1 in the world but has struggled famously since winning the 2001 Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, was at 4-under 140 through two rounds at Royal Liverpool.

This marks the second straight major in which Duval has made the cut and played exceptionally well. He shot a 70 for the second straight day, but couldn't buy a putt Friday.

"You can't control the ball better than I did today," he said. "I just have to try to continue to score as best I can."

HAMILTON HANGS: It's not likely that surprise 2004 Open Champion Todd Hamilton will be earning his second claret jug at Royal Liverpool this week. However, he did make the cut thanks in large part to a crunch-time eagle on the par-5 16th hole after hitting a 5-iron second shot to 20 feet and holing the putt in the second round Friday.

"The eagle came at a great time," he said, after making the cut on the number at 1-under 143. "I was struggling. I was hitting the ball well on the back nine, but I couldn't get any putts to go in. Being 1-over at the time, the eagle came at a very good time. I thought even-par was probably going to be the cut.

"It seems like lately when I?m close to making the cut I've done something silly, or something didn't go my way to make me miss the cut. Hopefully this is a good turning point that things start going the other way."

This was the first time since August of 2005 (PGA Championship and Reno-Tahoe Classic) that Hamilton made the cut two weeks in a row.

"It's special to make the cut here, for sure," he said. "This is a major and now I'm going to have two extra days of major experience. I've played golf for a long time as a professional and an amateur, but I haven't played many majors. To be able to play an extra two days under major pressure is nice, whether you just made the cut, or if you're top 10 going into the weekend. An extra two days is good."

CIGAR, PLEASE: Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is as famous for his love of cigars as he is for his bright, bushy, orangy-red spafro (Spanish-Afro), was 7-under 137 after two rounds. But when it was pointed out after his round that many players were likely heading to the gym to get some exercise in, Jimenez assured everyone he wouldn't be one of those players.

"No, no," he said. "I will go and have my beer now and maybe wine with lunch. Then I will have a nice big cigar."

GRAEME CRACKER: First-round leader Graeme McDowell, who earned a spot in the tournament by fighting through a nine-man playoff at a qualifier, wasn't quite as spectacular in the second round as he was in the first.

The 31-year-old from Northern Ireland was 1-over on Friday, which put him at 5-under 139, seven behind Woods.

"Coming through qualifying and being in the mix at the Open over the weekend, I shouldn't be complaining," he said. "And I'm not."

McDowell was asked if his 73 could be attributed to the presence of nerves.

"I didn't sleep well. But, I?m going to put that down to the heat and not the nerves," he said, referring to the strange spell of excessive hot temperatures and the lack of air conditioning by the Irish Sea.

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