Ishikawa nearing U.S. breakthrough

Ryo Ishikawa, who has never finished higher than 20th in stroke play in America, sits in second place after shooting 6-under 64.

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Ryo Ishikawa, who has never finished higher than 20th in stroke play in America, sits in second place after shooting 6-under 64.

AKRON, Ohio — Ryo Ishikawa amazed even his peers in a charity-driven sport when he pledged in March to donate his entire earnings on the golf course to the tsunami relief fund in his native Japan.

He could double the donation Sunday in a World Golf Championship event that is surprising even him.

Coming off a missed cut in Japan, never better than 20th in stroke play in America, the 19-year-old made six birdies and twice escaped trouble in the trees Saturday for 6-under 64 that put him in the final group, one shot behind Adam Scott in the Bridgestone Invitational.

Along with a $1.4 million payoff, Ishikawa could become the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event in 100 years.

"I think it's a little too early to think about winning this whole thing as of now," Ishikawa said. "But I do feel that I was able to play at a pretty good level, a pretty high level (Saturday). Actually, I'm a little surprised of how I performed out there."

Scott turned his fortunes around when he decided to stick with what was working, going to a fade off the tee. He poured in four birdies on the back nine for 4-under 66, giving the Australian, 31, a shot at his first World Golf Championship.

Scott was at 12-under 198, the lowest 54-hole score at Firestone in 10 years. Just ahead of Scott and Ishikawa today will be Jason Day, whose 66 also put him one shot back. Day and Scott tied for second in the Masters this year.

About the only thing Tiger Woods can get out of this week are four rounds and some points to help qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs at the end of the month. Woods, a seven-time winner at Firestone who hasn't played in nearly three months, struggled with his putting and shot 2-over 72. He was 13 shots behind in a tie for 38th in the 76-man field.

"I've just got to put together a good round and let it build," Woods said.

Scott in the lead should be compelling enough, especially with Woods back to golf. It was only two weeks ago when Woods announced he had fired his caddie, Steve Williams, and Scott then hired him full time.

PGA: Scott Piercy reeled off eight consecutive birdies to post 28 on the front nine and eagled the 616-yard closing hole to break the course record with 11-under 61, taking a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Reno-Tahoe Open in Nevada. Piercy enters the final round at 13-under 203, two ahead of Josh Teater and three ahead of a group that includes 1995 PGA champion Steve Elkington. Elkington shot 68 to get to 10-under 206. He was tied for third with 2006 Reno champ Chris Riley, first-round leader Nick O'Hern, Pat Perez, John Merrick and Blake Adams.

CHAMPIONS: Peter Senior shot bogey-free 67 and Palm Harbor's John Huston birdied No. 18 for 4-under 68 that left them tied for the lead at 12-under 132 after the second round of the 3M Champion­ship in Blaine, Minn. Jay Haas, the co-leader with Huston after the opening round, shot 69 and was one shot back.

.FAST FACTS

93rd PGA Championship

When/where: Thursday-Sunday; Atlanta Athletic Course, Johns Creek, Ga.

Field: 156 players

Purse: $7.5 million

Length: 7,467 yards

Par: 70

Defending champ: Martin Kaymer

TV: Thursday-Friday,

1 p.m., TNT;

Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m., TNT, 2 p.m., Ch. 10

Ishikawa nearing U.S. breakthrough 08/06/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2011 10:38pm]

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