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Journeyman McDowell grabs lead

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Graeme McDowell tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the World Challenge golf tournament at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)
By The Associated Press
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 7:44 p.m.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Graeme McDowell has done a lot right this year except win. He now has one last chance to fix that.

Back on the course that has provided two key moments in his career, McDowell opened with three straight birdies Friday and finished strong for a 6-under-par 66, giving him a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the World Challenge.

“A good day's work,” said McDowell, whose day was not over until he was escorted away for a drug test. McDowell was at 9-under 135.

Bo Van Pelt got up-and-down from the drop zone for bogey on the final hole that gave him a 68, leaving him tied for second with Keegan Bradley and Jim Furyk, who each had a 69. Tournament host and defending champion Tiger Woods was tied for the lead on the back nine until he stalled and settled for a 69. He was four shots behind.

Woods fired at flags around the turn, picking up easy birdie putts on the ninth and 10th, handling the par 5s without difficulty and getting to the top of the leaderboard. His momentum slowed with a bogey on the par-3 15th, and a poor chip from the rough to the left of the par-5 16th green that led to a par.

“I had a decent warm-up session, but the work I did last night was some of the best I've hit the golf ball all year,” Woods said. “I just had to come out here and trust it, and when I did, I got into a nice little run there. I just need to do that all 36 holes on the weekend.”

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