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Tiger Woods watched his putt on the 17th green during yesterday's first round of the Grand Slam at the Poipu Bay course.

Woods a day away
from fifth in a row

His 66 gives him a 3-stroke lead
in the tournament on Kauai

By Nick Abramo

POIPU, Kauai >> Tiger Woods is halfway to his fifth straight PGA Grand Slam of Golf title.

He's three shots ahead of Justin Leonard after shooting a 6-under-par 66 yesterday at the Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course, but he's not taking anything for granted as the elite four-man field tees off in today's final round.

"There's still a lot of work ahead for me tomorrow," Woods said after his bogey-free round that included an eagle and four birdies. "I still need to go out there and post a good number. We all played well on the front nine, so you know it can be had."

Leonard was right on Woods' heels -- one shot back after a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-3 11th, and Davis Love III was hanging right in there until a disastrous finish left him at even-par 72 and six back for the day along with Rich Beem.

Woods took a two-stroke lead by rolling in a 7-foot birdie putt on the 537-yard, par-5 14th after blasting out of and clearing the steep lip of a fairway bunker.

Leonard went down by three after finding a sand trap on the par-3 17th and missing a short par-saving putt while being distracted by a baby, who cried "da da da" from the gallery.

"I'm disappointed in not taking more advantage of the opportunities that I had," Leonard said. "(Holes) 16 and 17 are two perfect examples, and then there were some putts on the front nine that I had really good chances at. It's disappointing not to be any closer, not to have shot a better score."

With Kona winds blowing instead of the usual trades, all four golfers tailed off on the back nine going against the wind. Love's nosedive was the most dramatic. He made the turn at 3-under and two shots behind, but he shot a miserable 39 with four bogeys and a birdie over the final nine.

"I hit terrible wedge shots all day," Love said. "I drove it well starting out and then drove it in the rough coming in, trying to get up and down for pars and trying to hit them in there close. I was getting it farther and farther from the hole."

Love's worst wedge shot came on the par-5 18th, an 85-yard pitch that dropped in the water fronting the green. He was lucky to get up and down for bogey.

Beem, the winner of this year's PGA Championship, didn't have the same kind of highs and lows. He had 14 pars, two birdies and two bogeys.

"I didn't hit the ball particularly well all day and didn't putt very well, either," Beem said. "Basically, nothing really exciting happened for me out there. My lifeline out there for the most part was watching these guys make a lot of birdies."

Woods followed his booming 343-yard drive with a 181-yard, 8-iron approach and a 25-foot putt for eagle on the 524-yard, par-5 second hole. He also had birdie putts of 6 feet on the par-4 fourth, 10 feet on the par-5 sixth and 15 feet on the par-3 seventh. He drove the green on the 355-yard, par-4 fifth, but three-putted from 40 feet for par.

Today's final round boils down to Woods' ability to fend off Leonard, because Love and Beem would need dramatic comebacks to get in contention.

Woods wants to start off hot as he did with yesterday's front-nine 31.

"The front nine is going to be the easier nine because it's downwind and you have got to take advantage of those holes," he said. "I really did that. I really played well starting out and I need to play that way the entire round (today)."

Leonard's strategy is simple: "I have to do that, too."

PGA Grand Slam of Golf

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