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Jimenez claims lead at Muirfield

Miguel Angel Jimenez has put himself in a position that he has never been before.

The Spaniard battled for an even-par 71 on Friday at the British Open, and that was good enough to give him a 1-stroke lead after two rounds of the season's third major.

Jimenez, 49, finished 36 holes at 3-under-par 139. This is the first time he has been the second-round leader in a major.

If the pressure of owning his first 36-hole lead in a major isn't enough, all he has to do is look at the leaderboard behind him.

Three-time Open champion Tiger Woods also managed a 71 at Muirfield and is tied for second at minus-2. Woods stands alongside Lee Westwood (68), Dustin Johnson (72) and Henrik Stenson (70).

First-round leader Zach Johnson stumbled to a 4-over 75 to dip to 1-under-par 141 through two rounds. He was joined there by two-time major champion Angel Cabrera (72), Martin Laird (71) and Rafael Cabrera-Bello (74).

Ryan Moore carded a 1-under 70 and is alone in 10th place at even-par 142. Phil Mickelson (74), Masters winner Adam Scott (72) and 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke (71) are among nine players tied at plus-1.

Charl Schwartzel matched Westwood for the low round of the day as the former Masters winner climbed to plus-1 for the championship.

Jimenez moved to 4-under with his second birdie in two days at No. 2. He gave that stroke back when he bogeyed the fourth. He parred six in a row from the fifth.

The Spaniard converted a birdie try on the 11th, to post his first birdie on the back nine of the week. Jimenez gave that back as he faltered to a bogey at the 14th. He parred out to end at minus-3 and watched as Zach Johnson and Cabrera dropped below him.

"It's much better to feel when you were on the top of the leaderboard than when you were somewhere else on the leaderboard, no?," Jimenez jokingly asked. "I've been playing very well. Feeling solid and consistent on the golf course. The golf course is very hard. Some of the pin positions were very tough. Even when you play well, you're going to miss some greens, you're going to miss some fairways. But the game at the moment is consistent all parts of the game."

Woods had two birdies and two bogeys on his opening nine. After dropping a shot on the 11th to slip to minus-1, Woods parred his next six holes. At the last, he rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to end at 2-under par.

"I was having a hard time to get the ball, one to chase, and then on top of that trying to hit the putts hard enough going up the hills," Woods stated. "But then towards the middle part of my round, I lost the pace and was blowing it past the hole. But finally got it fixed at the end."

Westwood, the 2010 runner-up, flew out of the gate with birdies on the first two holes. He moved to 2-under with his second birdie in two days at the fifth.

The Englishman also birdied eight and nine to get within one of Johnson's lead. Westwood kicked in a 3-footer for birdie at 12 to join Johnson at minus-5.

However, Westwood faltered to bogeys at 13 and 14 to slip two back. He finished with another bogey at the last to end at minus-2.

Stenson opened with a birdie at the first, then posted four straight pars. He faltered to a double-bogey on the sixth, but came back with birdies at seven and nine to make the turn at 2-under par.

The Swede, who shared third place in 2008 and 2010, traded a bogey for a birdie from the 10th. Stenson tripped to another bogey at the 15th, but birdied the 17th for the second day in a row to end at minus-2.

Dustin Johnson dropped a shot at the first. He wrapped bogeys at the fourth and sixth around an eagle on the fifth. Johnson dropped another stroke at No. 8 and came back with a birdie on the ninth.

Around the turn, Johnson managed a birdie at the 12th to go with a bogey at 15, which left him tied for second.

Zach Johnson fell out of the lead with two birdies and four bogeys on the front nine. He moved back into the lead at minus-5 with back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13, but dropped out of the top spot with a double-bogey and two bogeys in his final fives holes.

Cabrera birdied four and five to grab the lead at minus-4. He dropped a shot at six, but bounced back with a birdie on the ninth. The Argentine bogeyed three of the last five holes to drop into a share of sixth place.

Mark O'Meara (78) and Tom Lehman (77), both former Open champions, fell to 3- over-par 145. Graeme McDowell managed a 71 to end two rounds at plus-4.

The cut line ended at 8-over-par 150. Among those that missed the cut were Bill Haas, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, U.S. Open champ Justin Rose, Tom Watson and Rory McIlroy.

NOTES: Jimenez has had 15 36-hole leads in his career and converted five of them into victories ... Defending champion Ernie Els bogeyed the final two holes for his second straight 3-over 74, which left him tied for 49th at plus-6.