Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tiger Woods leads by seven at Bridgestone Invitational

AKRON, Ohio — Tiger Woods wasted little time making sure everyone knew he wasn't about to back up in Saturday's third round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
He made birdie on his first two holes.
LEADERBOARD: Bridgestone Invitational
Although the world No. 1 wasn't nearly as sharp in all facets of his game as he was during his second-round 61, his first bogey-free round of the season, he nonetheless kept the rest of the field at a safe distance with a 2-under-par 68 to lead by seven with 18 holes to play.
ROUND 2: Tiger flirts with magical 59
Starting the day with a seven-shot lead under sunny skies, Woods, trying for his fifth win of the season and 79th of his career, extended his advantage to eight after two holes and never led by less than six the rest of the way.
With rounds of 66-61-68, he's at 15 under. Henrik Stenson (67) is alone in second at 8 under par.
"This would be a heck of a tournament for the fans and everybody out here if (Woods) wasn't playing, but that's not the case right now," said Jason Dufner, whose 67 put him at 7 under. "He's the type of golfer that can do this to these golf courses, and as players you've got to try and respond with what you can to try and catch him. It's a tough task.
" … All you can do is take your hat off to him after yesterday's round. It's a pretty unbelievable round of golf. He's showing the world and us where he's at right now with his game this week."
Is the tournament over? History would suggest a resounding yes. Woods is 52-4 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead in a 72-hole event. The largest lead he's ever lost after three rounds — two strokes — was to Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship.
A win would be his eighth in the event — he's also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational eight times — and his 18th WGC victory. No one else has more than three WGC wins.
"Today was a day that I didn't quite have it, but I scored. And that's the name of the game … posting a number, and I did today," said Woods, who hit nine of 18 greens (he hit 13 in the second round), eight of 14 fairways (he hit nine Friday) and had 25 putts (he had 22 Friday). "I grinded my way around that golf course today. It was playing a little blustery.
"As smooth as (Friday) was, it was as difficult as today was. It's just one of those things where I was just trying to build on my lead somehow, just trying to build on it, and for most of the day I was doing that."
Woods made his first bogey in 37 holes on the par-4 ninth when he drove into a fairway bunker and was forced to lay up well short of the green. He made a second bogey on the par-4 14th when he drove into a fairway bunker, hit his second near a tree, chipped long and then got up-and-down for bogey.
A third bogey came at the par-5 16th when he again drove into a fairway bunker and was forced to lay up twice. It was his second bogey of the week on the only par-5 on the back nine
But he made birdies from 12 feet on the first, 2 feet on the second, 7 feet on the 10th and 8 feet on the 17th. He also chipped in for birdie on the 13th. For the week, he has 18 birdies and an eagle.
"To just go out there and execute my game plan," Woods said when asked what his mindset will be when he steps to the first tee in the final round. "Whatever game plan I'm going to implement, just go execute it. It all starts with what the weather is doing, and then I build it from there, and we'll see what I do (Sunday)."
Seeing what he will do every step of the way will be Stenson, who will be paired with Woods in the final group.
"I think it's kind of tough to pick up seven or eight shots on Tiger around here," Stenson said. "It would take something spectacular on my behalf or any of the other guys around me and obviously a very, very poor round for him.
"I'm just going to try and play my game, and be excited to go out and play with him (Sunday). He's obviously playing great, and it'll be a good test, a good measurement. But we might just be there for watching the final victory lap. We'll see."
If the spectacular from Stenson doesn't come, or an unexpected miserable round from Woods doesn't happen, Woods will take a lot of momentum with him to Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. for next week's PGA Championship. Woods will be trying to win his 15th major title but his first since the 2008 U.S. Open.
"I think any time you can go into a major tournament or any tournament with a win under your belt it's nice. It validates what you're working on and you have some nice momentum going in there," Woods said. "And hopefully I can seal the deal tomorrow and get ready for the PGA at Oak Hill."

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