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Staggering Kuchar stays on top

Charlie Wi bounced back from triple bogey on No. 16 to shoot 69 and grab a share of the lead.

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Charlie Wi bounced back from triple bogey on No. 16 to shoot 69 and grab a share of the lead.

LEMONT, Ill. — Matt Kuchar was feeling terrible and playing even worse. He managed to hold himself together long enough Friday to salvage 1-over 72 and share the lead with Charlie Wi in the BMW Championship.

Kuchar made four bogeys through eight holes to tumble down the leaderboard, then rallied with five birdies over his last 10 holes to catch Wi, who shot 69 in the morning.

They were at 6-under 136 and had a one-shot lead over Marc Leishman, whose 65 was the best of the day on a Cog Hill course that was getting a steady stream of criticism.

Tiger Woods, the defending champion and a five-time winner at Cog Hill, was resigned to the fact that the greens were not pure. He didn't make many putts and shot 72, leaving him in a tie for 40th, nine shots out.

It was the first time Woods opened with consecutive rounds over par at Cog Hill since he was an 18-year-old amateur.

"I made nothing (Friday)," he said. "I hit the ball a hell of a lot better than my score indicates."

The only score that matters — along with the number on his card — is his rank in the FedEx Cup standings. Woods is No. 51 and needs to finish around fifth at Cog Hill week to make the Tour Championship in two weeks.

Kuchar already has reservations at East Lake. He is No. 1 in points after winning the playoff opener, and it doesn't hurt that he's tied for the lead going into the weekend.

How much longer he lasts remains the question.

Kuchar, who first thought he had laryngitis, isn't sure whether he has a viral or bacterial infection. He barely had enough strength to stay upright, much less concentrate on the shot at hand.

"I was as weak as I could be," Kuchar said. "I tried for the four or five seconds over the ball to flip the switch on and really give it what I had and go back to walking around without a whole lot of energy."

His rally began with a birdie on the ninth and really took off on the par-3 12th with a 30-foot birdie. That was the start of five consecutive one-putt greens.

Wi refused to let one blunder ruin his day. He reached 8 under for the tournament until hooking a 3-wood on No. 16 then three-putting for triple bogey. He bounced back with a birdie on the next hole.

Wi is No. 37 in points, closer than ever to his first Tour Championship, which comes with a spot in three of the majors.

"For me to play well, I knew that I had to stay in the present and just play one hole at a time," he said. "Actually, I wrote that down on my pin sheet every day so I look at it if I were to get ahead of myself."

The greens are inconsistent because of summer heat and recent rain. But it's not just the greens. Phil Mickelson (71 —143) has done little to hide his disdain of the Rees Jones course makeover and at one point suggested, "I'm not good enough to play this course."

LPGA: On her way to the lead of the Northwest Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Morgan Pressel enjoyed chatting with an unusual playing partner.

Pressel and Juli Inkster played alongside 17-year-old Daniel Watkins from The First Tee program. A dozen players from the youth development organization are joining the pros during the first two rounds in a best-ball competition that is taking place alongside the LPGA Tour tournament.

"We had a lot of fun out there," said Pressel, of Boca Raton. "It didn't really come out until the last hole when he admitted to me that he was very nervous about the spectators and didn't want to kill anybody. I told him that Tiger (Woods) hits it all over the place, too, and has a lot more spectators than we do, so not to worry about it."

Pressel shot 5-under 66 to take a one-stroke over Yani Tseng, Gloria Park and Na Yeon Choi. Michelle Wie, coming off a victory in the Canadian Women's Open, was another stroke back along with five others.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 1-under 70, tied for 24th.

Staggering Kuchar stays on top 09/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 11:29pm]

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