Furious Finish Keeps Furyk in the Lead

RSS

There were no left-handed shots Saturday. No trees struck. No flagsticks hit.
 
But there were a lot of good shots for Tiger Woods in the third round of the $5 million WGC-NEC Invitational.
 
Woods posted a 4-under-par 66 at Firestone Country Club to move to 11-under through 54 holes in Akron, OH.
 
But while Tiger has the headlines, Jim Furyk has the lead.
 
Thanks to a furious finish, Furyk matched Woods 66 to maintain a two-shot advantage at 13-under-par over the worlds top-ranked player heading into the final round.
 
'If you gave me my choice, Id rather be leading the golf tournament by two and teeing off with Tiger in the last group. Theres worse positions I could be in right now, Furyk said.
 
Furyk and Woods have distanced themselves from the 38-man field, but its not quite a two-man race to the $1 million finish line.
 
Paul Azinger (65) and Darren Clarke (68) are five off the lead at 8-under.
 
Phil Mickelson (70) is six back after receiving a one-stroke penalty at the par-5 16th.
 
Two off the lead at the time, the lefty blocked his tee shot into the left rough.
 
With his ball nestled in the thick grass, Mickelson was unable to clearly identify his ball, as he hadnt marked it when he put it into play. After conferring with rules officials, Mickelson picked up his ball to see if it was his, but when he did so, he failed to tell his playing partner, Furyk.
 
That resulted in a one-stroke penalty. Rule 12-2 in the Official Rules of Golf states ' Except in a hazard, the player may, without penalty, lift a ball he believes to be his own for the purpose of identificationBefore lifting the ball, the player must announce his intentions to his opponent in match play or his marker or fellow-competitor in stroke play.
 
Mickelson eventually carded a double-bogey 7.
 
A year ago, Woods won his second straight NEC title under the cover of darkness. This year, he may do the same under the cover of an umbrella.Due to the threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon, tournament officials have moved and split tee times.
 
The first pairing will go out on the back nine at 7:45 a.m. ET, with the leaders teeing off on the front at 9:06 a.m.
 
Play is expected to conclude around 1:00 p.m., barring weather delays.
 
CBS will broadcast the tournament in a tape-delayed format in its original 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. time period.
 
Playing in the penultimate group on Saturday, Woods birdied his first two holes to tie Furyk for the lead at 9-under.
 
Woods bogeyed the 4th, but actually took sole possession of the lead when Furyk bogeyed the 4th and 5th holes.
 
A couple of tight approach shots led to birdies at Nos. 9 and 10. He then completed his scoring by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th.
 
I hit a lot of pretty good shots, Woods said. I got myself right there in contention with a chance to win tomorrow.
 
A victory would be the sixth straight for Woods in the Buckeye State. Tiger has won three consecutive Memorial Tournaments, played in Dublin, and the last two NEC Invitationals.
 
Woods is winless since capturing the Memorial in early June. Furyk, however, hasnt won since the season-opening Mercedes Championships.
 
Saturday, Furyk started sluggishly but finished mightily.
 
Following the back-to-back bogeys, Furyk made birdies at the 8th, 12th and 13th holes to regain a share of the lead at 10-under.
 
He stayed level with Tiger by birdieing the 16th, and then surged ahead with two more red numbers to shot a back-nine 5-under-par 30.
 
It turned into a very, very good day, Furyk said. Hopefully, tomorrow, things will go smoothly and Ill have a good round, but Ill be prepared. If its not looking well or its not going well early, I know I can plug away and turn it around like I did today.
 
News, Notes and Numbers
 
*Furyk has held at least a share of the lead heading into the final round of a PGA Tour event five times. He's won twice (1995, '99 Las Vegas Invitationals).
 
*U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen fired a 6-under-par 29 on the front nine Saturday. The score tied the nine-hole record at Firestone Country Club, set by Tom Weiskopf in the final round in 1977. Goosen started his round by holing a 9-iron from 142 yards for eagle. Hes played the 1st hole in 4-under-par through three rounds.
 
Check out Retief Goosens scorecard
 
The South African birdied his final hole to shoot 1-under 35 on the back nine. Goosens 64 has him a 5-under-par for the tournament.
 
*Colin Montgomerie broke 70 for the first time in the third round on the PGA Tour this season. Montgomerie shot 66 to move into a tie for 5th place at 7-under.
 
Full-field scores from the WGC-NEC Invitational