South Korea's Yang Yong-Eun shrugged off a fever and an aching head to shoot a seven-under 65 Friday and seize the lead in the Chevron World Challenge golf tournament.
Yang had a nine-under total of 135 and two-shot lead over Ireland's Padraig Harrington, overnight co-leader Ian Poulter of England and US veteran Kenny Perry in the tournament missing beleagured host Tiger Woods.
"I'm actually coming down with the flu or a fever," said Yang, who arrived from China on Monday and said he was starting to feel ill then.
"I've got a pounding headache. I didn't try to force anything," said Yang, who could at least be happy at where he has come from this time last year, when he was in the pressure cooker of the US tour's qualifying school.
"A year ago I had a huge headache because I was under a lot of stress mentally. There was huge pressure, psychological pressure," he said of the struggle to earn a US tour card.
"After a year I still have a headache, but its because of illness not because of any pressure or stress."
Yang is spareed the Q-school ordeal after winning twice in America this year. He shot to prominence when he out-dueled Woods to win the PGA Championship in August.
Yang's victory at the PGA Championship made him the first Asian man to claim one of golf's major titles. He also handed superstar Woods his first defeat in a major in which the world number one led going into the final round.
Yang said he was sorry not to have a chance to renew his on-course rivalry with Woods this week.
"It's disappointing because it's Tiger's event," Yang said of the tournament Woods hosts annually to benefit his charitable foundation. "Competing with him is always fun."
Yang had little to say about the scandal swirling around Woods, which erupted after an odd late-night car crash a week ago and has progressed through tabloid allegations of infidelity, spiraling internet gossip and an admission by the star himself of "transgressions" in his personal life.
"I'm only about three years older than Tiger, so I don't have enough infinite wisdom to offer him," Yang said, adding that he really only knew the American inside the ropes, where he found him professional and focused.
"I just hope that we can see Tiger Woods on the course as soon as possible," he said.
Yang said he didn't feel he putted well, but he overcame that in at least one instance by chipping in for a birdie at the par-three 15th.
Yang birdied four of his first six holes before a bogey at seven. He drained a 16-foot birdie putt at nine to claim a share of the lead, and led alone after a birdie at 11.
At 15, he hit his tee shot over the green but holed his chip, and he picked up one more shot at 16.
Perry started the day at even par and climbed up the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65 that included an 18-foot birdie putt at 17.
"Where I was looking today, the ball was going," Perry said. "So, pretty excited. I don't think I've missed a fairway in two days. I've had a lot of opportunities, and my speed is great with the putter."
Harrington birdied three of his first four and got to eight-under with a birdie at 16 before giving a shot back at 17.
"I played OK," Harrington said. "Probably I would think it was a bit of a missed opportunity, but I'm still happy enough with the score."
Poulter made little headway early, but birdies at 16 and 17 got him to seven-under for the tournament and he saved par at 18 after missing the fairway off the tee to join the group sharing second.