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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
Woods shines as Nicklaus bows out
By Matt Slater
BBC Sport at St Andrews

Jack Nicklaus

On the day golf said goodbye to its greatest champion, his heir took another step towards surpassing his exploits.

Jack Nicklaus could not make the cut but he could delight the St Andrews galleries with a stirring farewell performance.

Tiger Woods carded a bogey-free 67 and is now odds-on to land his 10th major - just eight behind Nicklaus' career haul.

But one man who may stop Woods - and win an overdue first major of his own - is Colin Montgomerie, who birdied the last to reach seven under, four off the lead.

The 42-year-old Scot holed a testing 10-footer on 18 to emerge from a logjam of players on six under.

World number two Vijay Singh is perhaps the next greatest threat to Woods' hopes after a second straight three-under 69.

Alongside the Fijian are Americans Brad Faxon and Scott Verplank, South African Trevor Immelman, Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal and Aussie duo Robert Allenby and Peter Lonard.

But the day really belonged to the 65-year-old from Columbus, Ohio.

I've had the chance to talk to him a few times and pick his brain... it's truly been an honour to be around him
Tiger Woods
Playing alongside fellow legend Tom Watson and young English star Luke Donald, he was applauded for every step he took around the Old Course.

And his birdie putt at the last was greeted with cheers loud and long as golf's most famous amphitheatre heralded golf's most successful player.

But for how much longer will the Golden Bear have that honour?

Woods, still only 29, was in complete control of his game, the only surprise being his inability to improve his score of 11 under.

The world number one carded birdies on the third, fifth, ninth, 10th and 14th, and narrowly missed another after a superb approach to the treacherous 17th.

Huge drives created a number of eagle chances and the rest of the field should be relieved he had to settle for birdies.

His only mistakes came at the relatively simple last when he pulled his drive to the edge of the first fairway and then saw his chip roll back off the putting surface.

I know he hates to say goodbye but you've got to say goodbye sometime
Steve Nicklaus
Jack's son and caddie

But Woods, who won here in 2000, rarely makes three mistakes in a row and a superb long putt from the bottom of the Valley of Sin kept a bogey off his card.

Woods' refusal to give back shots to the field will have deflated his rivals further down the leaderboard.

Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen - the world number three, four and five respectively - are all on three under, eight shots off the pace.

Goosen struggled on Friday and could only manage a 73, while Els and Mickelson went the opposite direction adding 67s to their opening 74s.

Between them and the lead are a number of potential winners - if Woods was to slip - including Sergio Garcia and the 1995 winner here John Daly.

Among those who definitely will not be challenging on Sunday are the last two winners, Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis.

Other big names to miss the cut are England's Paul Casey and Lee Westwood, Europe's Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam and Americans Jim Furyk and Davis Love.

England's Tony Jacklin also bowed out but Watson, a five-time winner of the event, made it to the weekend after finishing on one over.

So now the stage is left to the young pretenders and none right now has as strong a claim to Nicklaus' throne as the 29-year-old from Cypress, California.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Highlights: The Open - second round


Interview: Open leader Tiger Woods


Interview: Jack Nicklaus


Interview: Colin Montgomerie



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