- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2012

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF. (AP) - Charlie Wi is pleasant by nature, so he was not likely to be insulted when someone asked him if it felt like an out-of-body experience to see his name atop the leaderboard through two rounds of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

He escaped most of the rain Friday at Pebble Beach, holed out a wedge for eagle from the 13th fairway and escaped with bogey on his final hole for a 3-under 69 that gave him a three-shot lead over Dustin Johnson.

“It’s my seventh year on the PGA Tour,” Wi said. “I’m doing something good to be here for that long.”

The leaderboard was filled with possibilities going into Saturday, when everyone completes the three-course rotation, and it was easy to overlook the guy at the top _ especially because Wi has never won on tour.

Johnson is a two-time Pebble Beach champion in the last three years, and a rare lapse in his short game forced him to settle for a 72 at Spyglass Hill. Another shot behind were a pair of multiple major champions, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington. Right behind was Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner at Pebble, a four-time major champion.

And still in the mix: Tiger Woods.

Woods took 33 putts at Monterey Peninsula and had to settle for a 68, leaving him six shots behind.

“I’ve going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow,” Woods said.

Wi and Woods have a history, even if Woods might not remember. They played junior golf together in Southern California in the 1980s, and one tournament stands out for Wi.

“I knew he was a fierce competitor, even when we were younger,” Wi said. “I remember playing with him when I was 13 and he was 9, and we were playing together. There’s a golf course in Long Beach called El Dorado. The ninth hole is a really long par 3. I didn’t know what he did with his tee shot, but I remember he had 70 yards left, and he lipped it out and got so mad.

“I said, `What’s wrong?’ I thought it was a great shot,” Wi said. “He said, `I was trying to hole that.’ I said, `Oh, come on.’ And that always stuck with me _ 9 years old at El Dorado.”

Did he beat Woods that day?

“He was 9,” Wi said with mock indignation. “Yes. I was outdriving him back then.”

Woods went on to six consecutive USGA titles, 14 majors, 83 wins worldwide, No. 1 in the world longer than anyone. Wi wound up at Cal and then traveled the world _ Asia, Europe, anywhere he could find to play. He’s on the slow road, but happy with the progress.

He has made over $1 million his last five seasons on the PGA Tour, enough to comfortably keep his card, but not enough to attract much attention except for about five years ago when people jokingly made reference to Michelle Wie.

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