Rain Still a Problem Cink Still Leads


AKRON, Ohio -- Stewart Cink remains on top of the leaderboard in the second round of the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational, but weather problems were once again the story on Friday.
Play was suspended due to heavy rain and only 24 players completed the second round. Those who need to finish round two will return to Firestone Country Club at 8:00 a.m. ET Saturday.
On Thursday, the start was delayed until 2:45 p.m. and the golfers went out in threesomes off both the first and 10th tees. There was another suspension on Thursday, but the competitors played until darkness set.
'We're used to doing that,' said Cink. 'It's not totally disruptive. It's part of the game. We're used to it, it happened. You have to be ready for it on a day like today when you see the forecast.'
Cink, who was named one of Hal Sutton's U.S. Ryder Cup captain's picks on Monday, is 8 under through 10 holes. He shot a 7-under-par 63 in the first round.
David Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion, was one of the few who finished his second round on Friday. He shot a 4-under 66 and is through 36 holes at 5-under-par 135.
Rory Sabbatini, Rod Pampling and Chris DiMarco are 3 under in their second rounds while Sabbatini is through 13 holes and Pampling and DiMarco completed 12.
Tiger Woods, a three-time NEC Invitational champion, is fighting to keep his No. 1 ranking. This week, he broke Greg Norman's record for most weeks atop the rankings with 332, but there are several scenarios where PGA champion Vijay Singh or Ernie Els could overtake him.
But Woods has responded this week while the others are bringing up the rear of the leaderboard.
Woods is 1 under par through 12 holes in his second round and is 3 under par for the championship. Singh is 2 over on his round and 5 over for the tournament, while Els, who needs to finish third or better to have any chance of overtaking Woods, is 6 over in the second round and plus-8 for the championship.
'We've got a long way to go,' admitted Woods. 'This golf course is not going to get any easier. We've got to stay patient. The scores are not that low. Guys are having a hard time making birdies out here, so we'll just try to stay patient.'
Cink was playing patiently in Friday's second round. He parred the first six holes before a birdie at the seventh, but the wheels fell off soon after. Cink missed the fairway at eight and made bogey, but he chipped in for a birdie at the 10th.
Cink has a 25-foot, downhill birdie putt at the 11th when he returns Saturday morning. He could not even attempt to putt out because there was so much casual water on the green.
'This delay actually might be good for me because I had hit a few good shots less than perfect and not quite up to the standards I'm used to hitting them,' said Cink. 'So maybe tomorrow morning I'll get out and recapture the magic.'
Cink was one of Sutton's choices in part because of his play over the last month. He took fifth at the Buick Open, then tied for sixth the following week at The International. Cink tied for 17th last week at Whistling Straits, but the Heritage winner doesn't think being named to his second Ryder Cup team is why he is atop the leaderboard.
'I do feel a sense of relief that that's over because that is just a lot of stress,' said Cink. 'I don't think that being selected for the team has anything to do with me playing well because I've been playing pretty well since the first of July.'
Woods is tied with British Open champion Todd Hamilton (through 17 holes), Sergio Garcia (through 13 holes), Jim Furyk (through 12 holes) and Davis Love III (through 11 holes).
Defending champion Darren Clarke posted an even-par 70 and is in the clubhouse at 1-over-par 141.
Els and Singh are not the only players in the top 5 in the World Ranking who are struggling. World No. 4 and reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson only managed a 75 in the second round and is plus-5 for the tournament.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-NEC Invitational
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational