Leonard Extends FedEx Lead to Eight

By Sports NetworkMay 28, 2005, 4:00 pm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Justin Leonard kept on rolling with a 4-under 66 on Saturday, stretching his lead to eight strokes at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Leonard, who is seeking his 10th career victory on the PGA Tour, finished at 17-under-par 193.
Heath Slocum used a 67 to move into second place at 9-under-par 201 while Tom Pernice, Jr. took third place at 8-under-par 202. Davis Love III, Fred Funk and Paul Goydos share fourth place at 7-under-par 203.
Justin Leonard
Justin Leonard rolls in a birdie putt that would eventually extend his lead to eight strokes at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Leonard was on fire during the first two rounds at the TPC at Southwind and the former British Open champion carried an imposing five-shot lead into the weekend. He picked up where he left off on Saturday with a birdie at the par-5 third and hit his tee shot within 16 feet of the hole for a birdie at the par-3 eighth.
The 32-year-old played his second shot to the back fringe at the par-4 ninth and two-putted for a par. Leonard then dropped his approach inside 12 feet at the par-4 10th, but was unable to convert the birdie try.
At the par-3 11th, Leonard landed his tee shot to the right of the hole and watched as his ball rolled within inches of the cup. He tapped in for a birdie and continued to run off pars on the back nine.
'The wind is so light here that it kind of changes a little bit here and there,' Leonard said of his shot on the 11th. 'When I hit it, the wind was into me a little bit.'
Leonard rolled in a 12-foot putt for a birdie at the par-5 16th and parred his two remaining holes to secure the largest 54-hole lead of the 2005 season on the PGA Tour.
'It is nice to have the lead, certainly a lead this big,' said Leonard, who hoisted the claret jug in 1997. 'I certainly am playing in a nice rhythm right now and playing with confidence.'
Slocum birdied each of his first two holes, but he gave a shot back with a bogey at the fourth. He countered with back-to-back birdies from the sixth to reach 9 under, but found trouble again with a bogey at the eighth.
The 31-year-old got back to minus-9 with a birdie at the 11th, but again he followed up with a bogey at the 12th. Slocum then sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the 16th finish alone in second place.
'It is hard to expect anything less than him playing a good solid round,' Slocum said of the prospects of catching Leonard on Sunday. 'All I can do tomorrow is go out and play the golf course the only way I can play it. I am not going to change strategy or anything. Hopefully I will hit it well enough tomorrow to give myself some chances.'
Pernice had two birdies and a bogey over his first nine holes. A birdie at the 11th lifted him to 8 under and he ran home a long birdie putt at the par-3 14th to move to minus-9. Pernice stumbled down the stretch with a bogey at the 17th, however, and parred the last for a round of 68.
Defending champion David Toms, who had a seven-shot lead heading into the final round of this event last year, fired a 65 to move into a tie for seventh place. He was joined by Fredrik Jacobson, Bob Estes, Richard S. Johnson and Phillip Price at 6-under-par 204.
Billy Andrade, Roland Thatcher and Mathias Gronberg finished knotted at 5- under-par 205.
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    Stenson leads strong cast of Bay Hill contenders

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 11:38 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Henrik Stenson has a tortured history here at Bay Hill, a collection of close calls that have tested his mettle and certainly his patience.

    Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational won’t get any easier. Not with a course that is already firm and fast and fiery, just the way the King would have wanted it. And not with 13 players within five shots of the lead, a group that includes Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and, yes, even Tiger Woods.

    Without his best stuff Saturday, Stenson still managed to edge ahead of Bryson DeChambeau to take a one-shot lead heading into the final round. It’s familiar territory for the Swede, who posted four consecutive top-10s here from 2013-16, including a few agonizing near-misses.

    Three years ago, Stenson appeared on his way to victory when he was put on the clock on the 15th hole. Rattled, he three-putted the next two holes and lost by a stroke. The following year, he was tied for the lead with three holes to play, then hit it in the water on 16 and bogeyed two of the last three holes.

    “It wouldn’t be the only tournament where you feel like you’ve got some unfinished business,” Stenson said, “but I’ve been up in the mix a few times and we’re here again, so of course I would like to see a different outcome.”

    What will be interesting Sunday is whether history repeats itself.

    Neither Stenson nor DeChambeau is quick-paced, with DeChambeau even acknowledging that he’s one of the game’s most methodical players, stepping off pitch shots and checking (and re-checking) his reads on the green. With so much at stake, it’s not a stretch to imagine both players grinding to a halt on a course that got “crusty” in the late-afternoon sun.

    “We’ve got a lot of guys behind me,” DeChambeau said, “so I’ve got to go deep tomorrow.”

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    The 24-year-old earned his breakthrough victory last July at the John Deere Classic, but that was one hot week as he tried to play his way out of a slump.

    Even this week’s performance was unexpected, after he withdrew from the Valspar Championship because of a balky back.

    Last weekend he underwent an MRI (clean), didn’t touch a club for three days and showed up here cautiously optimistic. His ball-striking hasn’t suffered at all – in fact, he’s ranked fifth in strokes gained-tee to green – and now he’s relishing the chance to take on some of the game’s biggest names.

    “Whatever happens,” he said, “it’s going to be a great learning experience.”

    Of the 13 players within five shots of the lead, 10 are Tour winners. That includes McIlroy, whose putter has finally come alive, and Rose, who shot a third-round 67 to move within three shots, and Fowler, whose game is finally rounding into form, and also Woods, who has won a record eight times at Bay Hill. 

    Even if he doesn’t pick up a pre-Masters victory – he’s five shots back, the same deficit he erased here in 2009 – Woods has showed flashes of his old self at one of his favorite playgrounds, whether it’s the blistered 2-irons off the tee, the daring approach shots or the drained 40-footers.

    “I’ve got a chance,” he said.

    And so do the rest of the major champions and PGA Tour winners assembled near the top of the leaderboard.

    It should be a wild final round at Arnie’s Place – even if Stenson, for once, is hoping for a drama-free Sunday.

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    DeChambeau uses big words to describe back injury

    By Will GrayMarch 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Bryson DeChambeau needed just 30 seconds of explaining the state of his lower back to send the media center at the Arnold Palmer Invitational spinning.

    DeChambeau shot an even-par 72 in the third round at Bay Hill, and he will start the final round one shot behind Henrik Stenson as he looks to win for the second time in his young PGA Tour career. DeChambeau’s strong play this week comes in the wake of his decision to withdraw from last week’s Valspar Championship because of a bad back.

    DeChambeau is no stranger to new vocabulary words or adopting a scientific take on matters, and it was when he delved into the details of his injury that things got interesting.

    “It was because my quadratus lumborum wasn’t working. My iliacus, longissimus thoracis, they were all kind of over-working if you want to get technical on that,” DeChambeau said. “But they weren’t working very well, and I overworked them. Pretty much my lower right back was hurting and I rested it. How about that?”

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    DeChambeau tied for fifth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month, but he has struggled to find results in the weeks since. One of the keys to a quick recovery between Innisbrook and Bay Hill was some time on the couch this past weekend and a binge session of The Walking Dead on Netflix.

    “I literally didn’t do anything, and that’s really the first time I’ve done that in my entire life. I’ve never actually taken three days off where I didn’t touch a club,” DeChambeau said. “So that was unique for me and actually took me some time to acclimate to that, my body to get comfortable to get in a rested state. And then once it was finally able to rest, it healed a little bit and I was able to make a run for it this week.”

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    Woods fielding Masters practice-round requests

    By Will GrayMarch 17, 2018, 10:50 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Heading into what is likely his final competitive round before the Masters, Tiger Woods is starting to set up his schedule for the days leading into the season’s first major.

    Woods has won the Masters four times, most recently in 2005, and in the wake of a runner-up at the Valspar Championship and a strong showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he’ll head down Magnolia Lane with more momentum than he’s had in years. As a result, it’s not surprising that he has received more than a few inquiries about a possible practice round at Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week.

    “I’ve gotten a couple requests here and there,” Woods said with a grin after a third-round 69 at Bay Hill.

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    Woods has played the Masters only once since 2014, but don’t expect him to try out some unfamiliar pairings on Tuesday and Wednesday amid the azaleas. Woods still plans to rely on a rotation he’s had for several years, playing with former champs Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara. O’Meara, who received his green jacket from Woods in 1998, plans to make this year his final Masters start.

    “I traditionally have played with Freddie, if he can. We’re hoping he can come back and play again and play Augusta. I’ve played with Mark just about every single year,” Woods said. “It’s generally been those two guys, and those are the two guys I’ve grown up with out here on Tour. We sit next to each other actually at the champions’ dinner, and so we have known each other for a very long time.”

    While Woods is no stranger to fielding offers for tips and advice from younger players, especially on a course he knows as well as Augusta National, one top-ranked name continues to stick out among the requests he’s received in recent weeks.

    “Just the normal JT (Justin Thomas),” Woods said. “He’s always trying to get some practice rounds in.”

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    Stenson one clear of loaded leaderboard at Bay Hill

    By Nick MentaMarch 17, 2018, 10:10 pm

    Four of the top 15 players in the world and two men with stellar amateur resumes will do battle Sunday to win Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how things look through 54 holes at Bay Hill, where Tiger Woods sits five back at 7 under par.

    Leaderboard: Henrik Stenson (-12), Bryson DeChambeau (-11), Rory McIlroy (-10), Justin Rose (-9), Ryan Moore (-9), Charley Hoffman (-8), Rickie Fowler (-8), Talor Gooch (-8), Ben An (-8)

    What it means:  For the second straight day, Stenson (71) will go off in the final pairing with DeChambeau (72), after both players failed to separate themselves from the field in Round 3, shooting a combined 1 under. Stenson really should have a win at Bay Hill by now. He finished in the top-10 four years in a row from 2013-2016, with three top-5s. The closest he came to victory was in 2015, when he lost to Matt Every by one shot after being put on the clock and three-putting the 15th and 16th greens. If he’s finally going to close the deal Sunday, the world No. 15 will need to hold off challenges from three of the top 13 players in the OWGR – No. 5 Rose, No. 7 Fowler and No. 13 McIlroy – and two men who won both the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur – DeChambeau and Moore.

    Round of the day: John Huh and Austin Cook both made the 1-over cut on the number and shot 66 Saturday to move into a tie for 18th at 5 under.

    Best of the rest: McIlroy, Rose and Jason Day (-5) all signed for 67. McIlroy remains in search of his first worldwide win since he walked away from East Lake with the Tour Championship and the FedExCup in 2016.

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    Biggest disappointment: Fowler was 11 under for the week but dropped three shots in his last two holes. He failed to get up and down from the front bunker at 17 and then had his ball almost fully bury in the lip of a greenside trap at 18. With only a small portion of the ball visible, Fowler took two to get out of the sand and two-putted his way to a double-bogey 6, dropping him to 2 under for the day and 8 under for the championship.

    Shot of the day: Woods’ 210-yard 5-iron from the fairway bunker at the par-5 16th:

    Quote of the day: "I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, and probably get a little bit of help. But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first." – Woods