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BRYANT, GOOSEN TIED: Bart Bryant thought for the briefest moment Friday that he was capable of another 62. By the end of the second round at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, he settled for a 68 and was thankful to be tied for the lead with defending champion Retief Goosen.

Goosen sprayed his tee shots all over the course and still managed to continue his mastery at East Lake, hitting only four fairways but posting a 4-under 66 to erase a five-shot deficit.

Tiger Woods only hit three fairways — one shot wound up in a tent full of ice for the concession stand — but scratched out a 67 and was three shots back along with Ben Crane (65) and Scott Verplank (66). Tim Clark of South Africa shot 67 and was at 6-under 134, while Charles Howell III (68) and Stuart Appleby (65) were another shot behind.

Woods was lucky to be only three behind. From behind a tree on the 17th, Woods went through the green and chipped poorly to 20 feet. He made the par putt, then hit his tee shot on the par-3 18th to about 5 feet for birdie.


TOWERS STAYING: So much for the notion that Padres general manager Kevin Towers can't coexist with Sandy Alderson.

Towers will remain with the Padres following a hectic two-week stretch in which he interviewed for the Arizona Diamondbacks' GM job, was considered to have a shot at filling the vacant job with the Boston Red Sox and was sought by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers for their GM opening. Towers said he is not a candidate for the Boston job, and told the Dodgers, through Alderson, that he doesn't want to interview with them.

After hearing his named linked to other jobs, Towers told Alderson — the Padres' chief executive officer — that he was staying put.

THOMAS OPTION DECLINED: The Chicago White Sox bought out Frank Thomas for $3.5 million on Friday, making the best slugger in team history eligible for free agency. The 37-year-old Thomas exercised a $10 million mutual option for next season on Monday, giving the team five days to decide whether to exercise its half. The White Sox could try to re-sign the two-time AL MVP for less money.

"There should be no question about the respect this organization has for Frank and all that he has helped us accomplish, including a World Series championship," general manager Ken Williams said in a statement. "He is the greatest hitter in White Sox history. At the same time, it is my responsibility to make the best decisions I can on behalf of the organization. Our plan now is to continue to speak with Frank and his representatives over the coming months as more information is known about his health."

ALSO: Hall of Famer Robin Yount is returning to Milwaukee as the bench coach for the Brewers, 12 years after he left the only team he played for. "Brewer again," he said Friday as he slipped on his No. 19 jersey. "I'm very excited to be back in Milwaukee, where I knew I would always come back eventually." . . . Second baseman Ronnie Belliard's $4 million option was exercised as the Cleveland Indians rewarded one of their steadier and more underrated players . . . Mike Scioscia got a new deal to manage the Los Angeles Angels through the 2009 season. Scioscia guided the Angels to a 95-67 record and their second straight AL West division title this year.

Auto racing

NEWMAN CRASHES: Despite having the fastest car in qualifying, Ryan Newman is going to have to race from the rear of the field in Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Newman's first qualifying lap of 192.947 mph Friday on the 1.5-mile Texas oval was easily fast enough to beat runner-up Jeff Gordon's 192.397.

When Newman began his run, Matt Kenseth was on top of the speed chart with a lap of 191.966. Newman's first lap was much quicker, but NASCAR's leading qualifier didn't realize it and kept the gas pedal in his No. 12 Penske Racing South Dodge planted firmly on the floor for a second lap.

The Rocketman didn't make it, crashing hard heading into turn four when the right front tire went flat.