Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Golf

Tiger Woods holds lead in Bridgestone at Firestone

AKRON, Ohio — With an elite field chasing him, Tiger Woods decided to play keepaway.

Already up seven shots through 36 holes thanks to a career best-tying 61 in the second round, Woods shot a solid 2-under 68 Saturday in the Bridgestone Invitational to maintain that seven-stroke lead.

The world's best players couldn't catch up.

"You know, (Saturday) was a day that I didn't quite have it," said Woods, who was at 15-under 195. "But I scored. And that's the name of the game, posting a number, and I did. I grinded my way around that golf course."

Now he's 18 holes away from making history.

A victory would be his eighth at Firestone Country Club and in the Bridgestone and its forerunner, the NEC Invitational. That would match the PGA Tour record he has at Bay Hill and Sam Snead had at the Greater Greensboro Open.

Woods also could capture his 79th victory on tour in the World Golf Championships event, drawing him within three of tying Snead's record.

"I'll just go out there and execute my game plan," he said. "It all starts with what the weather is doing, and then I build it from there. We'll see what I do" today.

Woods is 41-2 when leading after 54 holes on the PGA Tour.

"It's kind of tough to pick up seven or eight shots on Tiger around here," said Henrik Stenson, a distant second after 67. "It would take something spectacular on my behalf or any of the other guys, and obviously a very, very poor round for him."

Unlike in his second round, Woods didn't recover from all of his errant shots. He bogeyed the ninth, 14th and 16th holes, failing to bounce back from wayward shots.

Yet he was good enough to put himself in position for a lopsided victory heading into next week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

"Anytime you can go into a major tournament or any tournament with a win under your belt, it's nice," Woods said. "It validates what you're working on and you have some nice momentum going in there."

Of course, Woods has failed to win in his past 17 major championships. No longer is it a lock that, with 14, he'll surpass Jack Nicklaus' mark of 18.

Woods began the third round with a seven-shot lead after rounds of 66 and 61, the fourth time he has gone that low, also matching the tourney record set by Jose Maria Olazabal in 1990.

Jason Dufner was third, eight strokes back after 67.

Wind scuttles round

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Inbee Park wanted tough conditions at St. Andrews to try to make up an eight-shot deficit in her pursuit of a fourth straight major.

It turned out to be too tough for anyone.

The third round of the Women's British Open was suspended by gusts that topped 40 mph and kept golf balls from staying put on the greens. After waiting six hours for the wind to calm, players were told to return this morning for a marathon finish.

Whether that becomes a huge break for the leaders — Na Yeon Choi at 10-under 134 was an hour away from teeing off — won't be known until today.

"It's still going to be windy … not, hopefully, as windy as it's been (Saturday), but there's no letup in it," said Susan Simpson, head of operations for the Ladies Golf Union. "It's still going to be very breezy and equally difficult conditions."

Nine players who completed the third round had an average score of 78.2. Cristie Kerr and Lydia Ko each had 75, the best of those who finished. Rikako Morita shot 86. The cumulative nine-hole scores for the 20 players who at least made the turn was 54-over par.

There were 508 holes played, and only 26 birdies.

Park is trying to become the first golfer, male or female, to win four straight pro majors in the same season. Her hope was for a steady round in raging wind and for the leading players to lose ground. Park was 1 under through four holes, making a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 3.

But it was her par on the fourth hole that helped make officials realize it was time to stop. The ball moved from its position from a gust, and Park called for a ruling to make sure she could replace it as long as she didn't address the ball.

PGA: Gary Woodland holed from a bunker and the greenside rough and hit a fairway shot within 2 inches for another of his seven birdies to take the third-round lead in the Reno-Tahoe Open in Nevada with 37 points in the modified Stableford scoring system. Brandon Steele was second with 30 points.

CHAMPIONS: Tom Pernice Jr. moved into position for his second tour title, shooting 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Tom Kite in the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn. Pernice had 13-under 131 at TPC Twin Cities after opening with 66.

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