Riley Toms Share NEC Lead


AKRON, Ohio -- David Toms and Chris Riley posted matching rounds of 3-under 67 on Friday to share the lead midway through the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational. The duo stands at 7-under-par 133 and owns a one-shot lead over Fred Funk and Vijay Singh.
Darren Clarke was 3 under through his first three holes but fell off the pace for an even-par 70. He is tied for fifth place with Brad Faxon, who shot a 67 in the second round, at minus-5.
Tiger Woods, who won this tournament three times when it was held at Firestone, made a mess of his final hole Friday. He drove into the left rough, hit his second into the gallery on the left side, then missed the green short with his third. Woods' pitch landed on the fringe, where he two-putted for a double bogey.
Woods finished with a 2-over-par 72 and is part of a group tied for ninth at 3 under par.
'The conditions got tougher late in the day, and that showed over the past four holes,' said Woods, who also bogeyed the 667-yard par-5 16th that played into the wind. 'The golf course got fast.'
Toms and Riley played together Friday and Toms took advantage early as swirling winds wreaked havoc on the back nine for the afternoon groups. At the par-5 second, Toms knocked a 6-iron to the back fringe and chipped close to set up birdie.
Toms vaulted into the lead at the par-4 sixth. He holed a pitching-wedge from 127 yards out for an eagle to reach 7 under par for the tournament.
'The first five or six holes, a lot of them were downwind and didn't seem like that big a deal. The course was playing shorter,' said Toms, the 2001 PGA champion. 'I was hitting it good and making birdies and easy pars, but then we got to the back nine and the course started playing tougher.'
Toms missed the fairway at No. 10 but played his second to 30 feet, where he sank the birdie putt to go to minus-8. Then the winds kicked in and Firestone showed its teeth.
Toms sailed over the green with his pitching-wedge approach at 14 and hit a poor chip that landed on the fringe. He seemed to be distracted over his par putt but went ahead and missed the 15-footer.
'I was mad at myself because I could see people, the legs moving behind me in the crowd,' said Toms, who finished second to Woods at the Match Play Championship. 'Normally I would back off, but I was still mad that I hit a shot over there in the first place with a wedge, then hit a bad chip and compounded my problem by not really being ready to hit the putt.'
Toms parred out for his round of 67 despite having to hit a driver, 3-wood, 9-iron at the monstrous 16th.
'We had some tough pins out there, and the wind was definitely a factor,' said Toms, a two-time winner on tour this season. 'The greens were drying out. So par was a good score on any hole on the back nine, that's for sure.'
Riley also got going early with a 10-foot birdie putt at the second. He added another birdie at the par-3 seventh when he knocked a 4-iron to 13 feet.
At the ninth, Riley hooked his ball into a left bunker but was able to get up and down for par from 50 yards.
'No. 9 was probably a key spot,' conceded Riley.
Three holes later, Riley saw Toms hit an 8-iron over the hole so Riley pulled a 9-iron out of his bag. His ball kicked off a bunker and rolled up to six feet to set up birdie and lift Riley to 7 under par.
Riley parred out to share first and also make it two consecutive rounds at Firestone without a bogey.
'I really hadn't thought much about it,' said Riley, referring to his bogey-free streak. 'I just tried to save pars when I needed to. I one-putted a lot today.'
Funk fired a 62 in the morning, several hours before the leaders teed off in the second round. He holed out for eagle at the first then tallied six birdies the rest of the way to grab his piece of third place.
'I've been talking to my caddie for about two months about not holing -- I can't remember the last time I holed a shot from the fairway, and I holed it on the first hole and looked up to him and I said, I finally made one,' said Funk.
Singh mixed six birdies and a bogey for a round of 65.
Davis Love III (70) and Retief Goosen (69) share seventh place at 4-under-par 136, followed by Woods, Peter Jacobsen (64), Dan Forsman (68), Jonathan Kaye (69), Ernie Els (70) and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton (69). That group came in at minus-3.
First-round co-leaders Sergio Garcia and British Open champion Ben Curtis struggled to rounds of 6-over-par 76 and are part of a logjam in 27th place at even-par 140.
Curtis will not have to worry about being late for his wedding Saturday. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5:00 PM and the wedding is 30 minutes from the course. Curtis will tee off at 11:40 AM ET in the third round.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the WGC-NEC Invitational
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational