By Mark Lamport-Stokes
THOUSAND OAKS, California (Reuters) - Tiger Woods mixed dazzling brilliance with occasional moments of sloppiness while charging into a three-shot lead in the second round of the Chevron World Challenge on Friday.
Seeking his first victory in more than two years, the former world number one fired a five-under-par 67 on a relatively calm day of gusting winds at Sherwood Country Club to take control of the tournament which he hosts.
Woods, who has not been in the winner's circle since the 2009 Australian Masters, recorded two eagles, five birdies, two bogeys and one double-bogey -- along with three missed putts from three feet, to post an eight-under total of 136.
Overnight leader KJ Choi of South Korea lost ground after the turn to card a 73 and slip back into a tie for second at five under with American Matt Kuchar (67).
Two more Americans, Zach Johnson (67) and Hunter Mahan (68), were a further stroke back in a share of fourth.
"That was probably the highest score I probably could have shot today," Woods told reporters after taking the 36-hole lead for a second successive year in the elite 18-man event.
"I hit the ball really well, hit one bad shot today and almost made birdie on that hole if I would have hit a decent putt."
Woods pulled his tee shot under trees in the left rough at the par-five fifth from where he was forced to chip out sideways back on to the fairway.
Despite hitting a stunning utility wood to three feet, he surprisingly missed the birdie putt.
"I hit a few bad putts today, but overall I really hit the ball well all day," the 14-times major winner said. "I didn't really miss a shot."
For his second tournament in row, Woods holds the lead going into the last two rounds, having led the Australian Open by a shot after 36 holes.
"I want the lead after the four days," he said with a smile. "Two days is nice, but four days is even better. I know I'm playing better, and it's nice to see my position on the leaderboard kind of equating to it."
Woods made a sizzling start to the second round, eagling the par-five second after hitting a superb second shot with a five-iron from an awkward side-hill lie in the left rough to five feet.
Immediately after striking the ball, Woods charged down the hill to watch the end result and then pumped his right fist in delight.
He calmly knocked in the eagle putt to trim Choi's overnight lead to just one shot before drawing level with the Korean at the par-three third where he sank a 10-footer for birdie.
Choi edged a stroke in front at the par-four fourth, thanks to a monster birdie putt from 40 feet, and then benefited from a surprising two-shot swing at the par-four sixth.
Woods bogeyed the hole after three-putting, missing a three-footer there for par, while Choi knocked in a six-footer for birdie to get to eight under overall, three ahead.
Two holes later, though, Choi's lead had again been cut to one.
Woods drained a 15-foot birdie putt at the tricky par-three eighth and the Korean bogeyed the ninth after missing the green to the left with his approach and duffing his first chip from the rough.
Out in three-under 33, Woods eagled the par-five 11th after hitting an exquisite four-iron to 15 feet. A birdie at the par-three 12th gave him the outright lead for the first time which he never relinquished.
Despite running up a double-bogey at the par-three 15th, where he hit what he described as "a sweet shot" that got caught in a gust before ending up in the water hazard guarding the front of the green, he birdied 16 and then bogeyed 17 after flying over the green with his tee shot.
"There was a little bit of wind out there on the back nine," Woods said with his trademark flashing smile.
Choi, who had been three shots clear overnight, struggled on the back nine and ran up an ugly quadruple-bogey at the 15th after hitting two balls into water.
(Editing by Julian Linden; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)