Autograph trade is sign of times for angry Tiger

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods has spoken of his annoyance about the way people are making money out of his autograph.

"It leaves a sour taste in your mouth for a lot of the guys out here on tour, not just myself," the world No 1 said. "Kids are now being paid as runners to go get autographs and the guy gives them cash on the spot.

"I'm giving something of myself and your intention is that they will cherish it, not value it as monetary goods. Unfortunately that's the nature of things now. The guy takes it, frames it and then sells it. That's not how I was raised - society has changed."

Woods was joint overnight leader in the NEC world championship here, a four-under 66 putting him level with Vijay Singh and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

England's 23-year-old Nick Dougherty resumed yesterday only one behind along with Americans Davis Love and Chris DiMarco.

The 23-year-old, whose maiden European tour win in Singapore in January qualified him for the event, was the joint leader with one hole to play, but could not recover from pulling his drive into trouble.

Stenson finished disappointingly too. After making a putt of over 60 feet at the short fifth - his 14th - he stood six under and two in front, but the 29-year-old three-putted the next and hit the sand on the seventh.

Singh beat Woods the last time they had a duel, but getting the better of him at Firestone Country Club is a tough task for anybody.

Woods has had three wins, a second and a fourth on his last five visits and his bogey-free 66 took him to a cumulative 60 under par.

That includes rounds of 61 and 62 - and nothing worse than a 72.

"I'd love to see a major here. It's one of the greatest courses we can ever play," the Masters and Open champion said.

Singh has not managed one top-five finish on the course in the same stretch, but may be developing a liking. He came home in 31 to take his place alongside Woods and Stenson.

Luke Donald is in the hunt for the title after opening with a 69, while David Howell, who returned last week after two months out with a torn abdominal muscle, matched Colin Montgomerie's 70.

Northumberland's Kenneth Ferrie, playing his first US Tour event, and Paul McGinley are only one further back.

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