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Haas & Rose atop Arnold Palmer Invitational


Despite a nagging strain to both his neck and shoulder that almost caused him to withdraw from this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bill Haas is doing just fine at Bay Hill. The 30-year-old Charlotte resident has posted scores of 69 and 66 to forge a tie with 18-hole pacesetter Justin Rose for the lead in the $6.2 million event in Orlando.

Haas carded four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 16th to total 9-under 135, the same score as Rose, who opened with a 65 and posted a 70 on Friday. After his 7-under effort Thursday, Rose had four birdies and a pair of bogeys in the second round.

Haas downplayed the significance of the injury, which he first suffered while picking up a towel at the Northern Trust Open last month and recently tweaked. "It's not bad. I can honestly play," the 2011 FedEx Cup champion told PGATour.com. "I can make a full turn. Sometimes when I look to the left it kind of tightens in the back of the neck.

"We should call it a sore neck, not an injury. When you're playing poorly, it hurts, and when you're playing well, it doesn't hurt."

Another stroke back is John Huh. The 22-year-old, who won as a first-year player last year in the Miyakoba Classic in Mexico was the Tour's 2012 Rookie of the Year, followed up his opening 67 with a 69. Huh told PGATour.com that he recently received a bunker lesson from K.J. Choi that's paying dividends. "We worked out about four or five hours," said Huh. "He's the master of the bunker, so I took really good notes."

Sharing fourth at 6-under 138 are Ken Duke (68), J.J. Henry (67) and Jimmy Walker (69). Mark Wilson (68), Vijay Singh (68) and defending champion Tiger Woods (70) are at 139.

Woods is vying for his eighth title in the Arnold Palmer Invitational; if he pulls it off he'll tie Sam Snead (Greater Greensboro Open) for the all-time record number of wins in the same event.

Woods, who will also supplant Rory McIlroy as the No. 1-ranked player in the world with a victory this week, was rolling along nicely for most of the day. He was 5-under par and only a stroke out of the lead through 15 holes before closing with three straight bogeys to fall four shots back.

Tied for 10th at 4-under 140 are Spain's Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (71), Luke Guthrie (67), Canadian Brad Fritsch (72), Bob Estes (69), John Rollins (72), Rickie Fowler (67) and South Korean Sang-Moon Bae (69).

The cut line was set at 3-over 147. Among those heading home are Jason Dufner (77), Phil Mickelson (79) and Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker, who led the FedEx Cup points standings as well as the Tour's money list even though he's been off for over a month due to a rib injury, never got untracked this week, shooting two consecutive 76s.

Mickelson is hoping to get his game in order in advance of the year's first major championship, the Masters, in three weeks. "I need to get my own game where it needs to be to be competitive," Mickelson told PGA Tour.com. "From where it was a few months ago, where I felt so good and my ball-striking was some of the best I've ever had it is a little surprising because just a couple months ago I was hitting it really well."

Reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson couldn't overcome an opening 8-over 80; the North Carolinian shot a 73 and is also heading home.

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