Tigers Terrific in Ireland
'I will say I played better today,' said Woods, who won this event in 1999. 'I felt better over all my shots today than I did yesterday. It's a crazy game. Sometimes you feel terrible and shoot low numbers; other times you feel great and shoot a high number. That's the way the game is. I certainly did feel better today.'
Steve Lowery, Woods' playing partner during round two, shot a 5-under 67 to finish three shots off the pace at 11-under-par 133 alongside David Toms. Retief Goosen was one shot further back at 10-under-par 134.
Woods carried a one-shot lead over Lowery and Toms after the opening round but the advantage had vanished as several of his competitors posted low scores in the morning at Mount Juliet Estate.
The top player in the world was slow getting started and was left with a difficult third shot after his approach at the par-5 fifth stopped just short of a bunker protecting the front of the green. However, Woods chipped his third shot over the sand inside two feet of the cup for his first birdie of the day.
At the par-4 seventh, Woods knocked his second shot within 15 feet and drained the putt for birdie. He picked up another birdie at the very next hole to make the turn at 10-under.
Woods rolled in a four-foot putt for birdie at the 10th and regained the outright lead with a birdie at the 12th after he hit his second shot to five feet.
Woods opened a two-shot lead with a birdie at the 14th to reach 13-under and after Kelly pulled within one with a stretch of three consecutive birdies starting at the 15th, Woods again pulled away with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
'Today I definitely drove the ball a little bit better,' said the 26-year-old. 'I felt a little more confident with my tee shots today. I hit my irons like I did yesterday and I putted like I did yesterday. All in all, I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing.'
Kelly, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, burst out of the gate with four birdies over the first five holes before he found trouble with a bogey at the sixth. Kelly responded with four birdies on the back nine to finish alone in second and is eager to play alongside Woods on Saturday.
'It will be great,' said Kelly. 'It's just playing my game and he's going to do what he's going to do, and I can't really fight him. I've got to just play as well as I can and see what happens after that.'
British Open winner Ernie Els collected six birdies and one bogey for a round of 67. The South African moved to 9-under-par 135 alongside Stuart Appleby and Gary Evans.
'I played really well,' said Els. 'I'm in contention but it all depends on what Tiger does. It seems like he's starting to make some birdies now.'
David Duval matched his best round of the year with a 7-under 65.
'I'm getting a lot of confidence back that I need to get back and that's coming from having success out on the golf course,' said Duval. 'I executed everything I was trying to do. That makes me feel good about today.'
Duval was joined by Rocco Mediate, Davis Love III, Stephen Leaney, Bob Estes, Justin Leonard, Chris DiMarco and Vijay Singh in a tie for ninth at 8-under-par 136.
Mike Weir, who won this event in 2000 at Valderrama, was one shot further back at 7-under-par 137 alongside Michael Campbell, Angel Cabrera, Kevin Sutherland and Niclas Fasth.
Full-field scores from WGC-American Express Championship
Watch: Tiger birdies 3 of 4, then goes OB
Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off in his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.
Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.
Walking in the par putt at No. 2. pic.twitter.com/zuSGZmVL3z— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.
A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.
Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.
Tiger gets it to 9-under.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
He's 4 shots back. pic.twitter.com/cAZtM14SlJ
Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.
His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.
Drive on 9 is approximately 824 yards off-line right. Approximately.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
Slides by. Bogey. That’s deflating. Turns at -9 and needs to go lights-out coming home to have any chance.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and another birdie at No. 10.
He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.
And with this roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, the charge was officially on, with Woods just one back.
Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and sniped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.
Uh oh. This is left...— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
Tiger picked the absolute worst time to stop going right on 16. Mercy.— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) March 18, 2018
He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 to drop back to 11 under, three behind.
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.
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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.
McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”
This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.
A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.
McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.
“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.
“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.