CARMEL, Ind. -- Nick Watney chuckled when he heard his name being chanted during the second round of the BMW Championship, knowing the fired-up spectators were there to see more of his playing partners but nonetheless were trying to encourage him.
For the second straight day, the marquee threesome did not disappoint, as the birdies kept pouring in, Woods going one lower than McIlroy a day after taking one stroke more.
The result was a 36-hole tie between McIlroy and Woods, 1 shot behind leader Vijay Singh, 49, who is attempting to win his first PGA Tour event in four years.
Singh set the pace with a second-round 66 but it was again McIlroy and Woods who got most of the attention. They and Watney played before the biggest gallery at Crooked Stick, site of the third FedEx Cup playoff event. The trio came into the tournament holding the top three positions in the playoff points standings.
"It was good golf,'' said Watney, the winner two weeks ago of The Barclays, who is tied for 39th after rounds of 70-69. "I've played golf with Tiger a lot more, and Rory is really, really good. I enjoyed myself. I just wish I could have made a few more birdies. ... Those guys, it seems, took all the birdies out there. I wish I could have had a little bit better showing.''
In truth, Woods loathes this type of golf, where multiple birdies are a must. The 36-hole scoring average of 69.643 is currently the second-easiest cumulative average on the PGA Tour this year, behind only PGA West at the Humana Challenge -- where the scores are typically this low.
That's got to have course designer Pete Dye stewing in his living room at his home here near the 18th hole. Dye, who has been nicknamed "Dye-abolical'' for some of his stern layouts like TPC Sawgrass and Kiawah Island, has seen one of his most famous designs shredded by the best players in the world.
"You come to a Pete Dye golf course and you don't expect to see 13 under par leading after two days,'' Woods said. "We have a small field, we have 70 guys and 51 shot under par [the first day]. When I was out there today, I was at 7 under and I was in 11th place, and only played 20 holes. I knew I had to go get it.
"It's a lot of pressure because you know on a golf course like this you have to go out there and shoot something in the high 60s.''
Woods did by birdieing three of his last four holes on a day when he felt he didn't have much.
"Today was a struggle,'' he said. "I fought hard to shoot a number today, and the way I was hitting it, I figured I could get to double digits under par would be a good accomplishment. I got a couple more out of it.''
Still, it sets up an interesting weekend at Crooked Stick, where McIlroy will attempt to win on the PGA Tour for the second straight week while Woods will try to thwart him and get to four PGA Tour wins first. McIlroy leads the FedEx Cup standings, followed by Watney and Woods.
This was the fourth time Woods and McIlroy were grouped together in the past three weeks and both are on a roll. McIlroy, 23 and ranked No. 1 in the world, is 30 under par in his last six rounds while Woods, 36 and ranked No. 3, is 28 under during that time. Woods finished third to McIlroy last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"Soft conditions, not much wind out there, guys out there are that good,'' McIlroy said. "You shoot a couple of decent rounds, you're going to get lapped. You know you've got to go out there and make birdies, and I supposed that's just your mindset from the start. That's just the way it is, and you have to go out there and try to do that.''
On Saturday, McIlroy and Woods will not be doing so in the same group, even though they share the same score.
Tournament officials decided to group the players in threesomes for the third round due to a poor weather forecast for the morning. Singh, who is 13 under par, will play with McIlroy and Ryan Moore, who is also at 12 under.
"It's nice to be able to give myself a chance to win each week,'' McIlroy said. "I feel like I'm getting used to that and just want to capitalize on that and win as many as I can.''
"It's motivating,'' said Watney about playing with McIlroy and Woods. "Those guys are 1 and 3 in the world, they are the biggest stars and I want to be in that group.''