FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Tiger Woods sent a clear message to the rest of the U.S. Open field on a gloomy, damp morning: Better bring your "A" game.
Woods picked up Friday where he left off the previous day, starting the second round with two straight birdies on the Black Course to move to 5 under -- three strokes ahead of Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard wasn't set to tee off until the afternoon. By then, Woods could have a commanding lead on a drizzly day.
He kept his sights on a true Grand Slam by shooting a 3-under 67 on Thursday, overcoming the frightening conditions at Bethpage State Park.
It was an ominous start for the rest of the field, which included only six players who broke par. Woods missed just three fairways and never had a putt for par longer than 12 feet. He made that one, along with six others of at least 8 feet.
"The only time I've putted better than this was at Augusta," Woods said.
He won the Masters in April, and is off to a great start in his quest to become the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to win the first two legs of the Grand Slam.
There's still a glimmer of hope for the others.
Woods has been in this position four times before -- leading a major after the first round -- but only twice has he gone on to win. Both occurred in 2000, when he took the U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes and the PGA Championship with a playoff victory over Bob May.
In 1998, however, Woods held first-round leads in both the British Open and PGA Championship. He wound up third at Royal Birkdale and tied for 10th at Sahalee Country Club.
Still, this looked more like the guy won four straight majors in 1999-00, becoming the first to hold all four majors at the same time -- the "Tiger Slam."
A beast of a course brought out only the best in the world's No. 1 player.
"I tried to stay out of trouble as much as I could," said Woods, reducing a demanding day to a simple explanation.
Woods has never lost a major when leading going to the final round. Garcia, who opened with a 68, hopes to have the chance to knock him off.
"I'm looking forward to being in a similar position or better position on Sunday, and see how I can handle it," Garcia said. "I can't wait to hopefully have two more good rounds and be up there."
An 18-foot birdie on his final hole Thursday gave Woods the lead all by himself after a long day that made some of the world's best feel like weekend golfers who pay $39 for the privilege of playing at Bethpage State Park.
"I love the golf course," said Phil Mickelson, elated at shooting 70, "but I'm OK with only four rounds under these conditions."
Any mistake came with a high price.
Davis Love III drove into waves of tall, flowing fescue along the 16th fairway. He whacked at the ball with all his might, but it traveled only about 15 yards -- still short of the fairway. He wound up taking double bogey.
"This is a great golf course to get to play," Love said, "and when they mow the rough, it'll be even better."
Then there was Justin Leonard, flailing helplessly with a wedge in the ankle-deep rough along the 12th green. The winner of the 1997 British Open managed to move his ball all of 6 feet with two swings, the grass gobbling it up each time.
When Leonard finally reached the green, he smiled and waved his arms to the gallery as if to say, "How about some love?" Eventually, he steered his ball into the cup, signed for a triple bogey and moved on.
Garcia, the 22-year-old Spaniard who first challenged Woods three years ago in the PGA Championship, chipped in for birdie on the fifth hole and had two big par saves toward the end of his round for a 68.
"You've got to realize that 1 or 2 under par, or even par, is always going to be a good round," Garcia said.
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