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Woods Fires 61 at Firestone

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At least there's something Tiger Woods has yet to accomplish on the PGA TOUR. For the second straight day, Woods made a run at 59. And for the second straight day he came up short.
 

 
But he's getting closer.
 

 
Woods fired a 9-under-par 61 to take a seven-shot lead over Phil Mickelson into the third round of the WGC - NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
 

 
At 15-under, Woods is eight shots clear of Justin Leonard, nine shots better than Jim Furyk, and ten strokes lower than Phillip Price and Lee Westwood. The aforementioned are the only players in the 37-man field within ten shots of Woods through 36 holes.
 

 
Thursday, Tiger was 7-under through 12 holes. Friday, he was one better. Eight-under-par through 12, Woods needed just three more strokes to par over his final six holes around the par-70 Firestone course to better 60.
 

 
After eagling the par-5 2nd and birdying holes 4-6, Woods made the turn in 5-under 30. He then added three more birdies at the 10th, 11th and 12th.
 

 
'To be honest, I had no clue how many under par I was,' Woods later said. 'I just tried to increase my lead.'
 

 
His run of three straight birdies ended when he left a 16-footer short at the 13th. Still, Woods needed only to play the final five holes - which included a par-5 - in three under for the fourth ever 59 on the PGA TOUR.
 

 
Al Geiberger was the first man to break 60 in TOUR competition. He did so in the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic. Chip Beck became the sophomore member of the prestigious fraternity by matching Geiberger's 13-under-par performance in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. Eight years later, David Duval won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic by firing that magical score in the fifth, and final round.
 

 
The par-4 14th looked promising for Tiger. His tee shot found the center of the fairway. However, his 8-iron approach shot flew the flag and finished in the back fringe. From there, he chipped to four feet - where he pushed his par save.
 

 
Woods dropped to 13-under for the tournament. He still led Mickelson by five, but his run for 59 had just hit a wall. A par at the 15th meant Tiger had to play the final three holes in 4-under-par.
 

 
Playing the 625-yard par-5 16th, Tiger knew he needed eagle. Two-hundred-and-seventy yards from the flag, Woods hit a 2-iron (that's right, a 2-iron) about as hard as humanly possible.
 

 
'I hit it flush,' said Woods.
 

 
That's an understatement. He nearly flew the green.
 

 
Over the green in two, Woods showed his all-around game by nearly holing a delicate pitch shot. He made the 4-foot birdie putt to move to 15-under for the tournament, 9-under for the day.
 

 
Needing a par to tie the course record and a birdie to break it, Woods sank an 8-footer for the former. Woods' 61 matched Jose Maria Olazabal for the lowest 18-hole score at Firestone. Olazabal initially set the mark in 1990. He went on to win the event by 12 shots.
 

 
'A lot better off the tee today,' said Woods following his career-tying round on the PGA TOUR. 'A lot of good shots and some wonderful shots, and some good, solid iron shots. So from tee-to-green, I hit the ball very well, and on top of that, I made a few putts.
 

 
Tiger's 64-61(125) aggregate is a new PGA TOUR record over the first two opening rounds. He also set a new TOUR record by carding his 29th consecutive round of par or better. The last time Woods posted a number in the black was his first 18 holes at this year's Byron Nelson in May.
 
Ironically, when Tiger teed off on Friday he was trailing by one. Mickelson started his second round birdie-eagle to move one shot clear of Woods. Six holes into his round, however, Woods was again in the lead. This time by five.
 
At least there's something Tiger Woods has yet to accomplish on the PGA TOUR. For the second straight day, Woods made a run at 59. And for the second straight day he came up short.
 

 
But he's getting closer.
 

 
Woods fired a 9-under-par 61 to take a seven-shot lead over Phil Mickelson into the third round of the WGC - NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
 

 
At 15-under, Woods is eight shots clear of Justin Leonard, nine shots better than Jim Furyk, and ten strokes lower than Phillip Price and Lee Westwood. The aforementioned are the only players in the 37-man field within ten shots of Woods through 36 holes.
 

 
Thursday, Tiger was 7-under through 12 holes. Friday, he was one better. Eight-under-par through 12, Woods needed just three more strokes to par over his final six holes around the par-70 Firestone course to better 60.
 

 
After eagling the par-5 2nd and birdying holes 4-6, Woods made the turn in 5-under 30. He then added three more birdies at the 10th, 11th and 12th.
 

 
'To be honest, I had no clue how many under par I was,' Woods later said. 'I just tried to increase my lead.'
 

 
His run of three straight birdies ended when he left a 16-footer short at the 13th. Still, Woods needed only to play the final five holes - which included a par-5 - in three under for the fourth ever 59 on the PGA TOUR.
 

 
Al Geiberger was the first man to break 60 in TOUR competition. He did so in the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic. Chip Beck became the sophomore member of the prestigious fraternity by matching Geiberger's 13-under-par performance in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. Eight years later, David Duval won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic by firing that magical score in the fifth, and final round.
 

 
The par-4 14th looked promising for Tiger. His tee shot found the center of the fairway. However, his 8-iron approach shot flew the flag and finished in the back fringe. From there, he chipped to four feet - where he pushed his par save.
 

 
Woods dropped to 13-under for the tournament. He still led Mickelson by five, but his run for 59 had just hit a wall. A par at the 15th meant Tiger had to play the final three holes in 4-under-par.
 

 
Playing the 625-yard par-5 16th, Tiger knew he needed eagle. Two-hundred-and-seventy yards from the flag, Woods hit a 2-iron (that's right, a 2-iron) about as hard as humanly possible.
 

 
'I hit it flush,' said Woods.
 

 
That's an understatement. He nearly flew the green.
 

 
Over the green in two, Woods showed his all-around game by nearly holing a delicate pitch shot. He made the 4-foot birdie putt to move to 15-under for the tournament, 9-under for the day.
 

 
Needing a par to tie the course record and a birdie to break it, Woods sank an 8-footer for the former. Woods' 61 matched Jose Maria Olazabal for the lowest 18-hole score at Firestone. Olazabal initially set the mark in 1990. He went on to win the event by 12 shots.
 

 
'A lot better off the tee today,' said Woods following his career-tying round on the PGA TOUR. 'A lot of good shots and some wonderful shots, and some good, solid iron shots. So from tee-to-green, I hit the ball very well, and on top of that, I made a few putts.
 

 
Tiger's 64-61(125) aggregate is a new PGA TOUR record over the first two opening rounds. He also set a new TOUR record by carding his 29th consecutive round of par or better. The last time Woods posted a number in the black was his first 18 holes at this year's Byron Nelson in May.
 
Ironically, when Tiger teed off on Friday he was trailing by one. Mickelson started his second round birdie-eagle to move one shot clear of Woods. Six holes into his round, however, Woods was again in the lead. This time by five.