Tiger in Charge at American Express

By Sports NetworkSeptember 29, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLER'S CROSS, England -- Tiger Woods fired a 7-under 64 on Friday to stay in the lead after two rounds of the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship. The defending champion stands at 15-under-par 127 and is five clear of the field at The Grove.
Woods went 3-2 last week at the Ryder Cup and was the American team's leading scorer, but the week before at the HSBC World Match Play Championship on the European Tour, the No. 1 player in the world lost in the first round to Shaun Micheel.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk will start the third round trailing Ryder Cup partner Woods by five.
This week is a return to the PGA TOUR, where he was won five consecutive events dating back to the British Open in July. He acknowledged earlier in the week that he believes his streak ended with the loss to Micheel, the PGA TOUR sees differently and Woods is well on his way to No. 6 in a row.
'I'm off to a good start so far but again, we're only at the halfway point,' said Woods, who has won 21 of 23 times since 2000 when he's owned at least a share of the 36-hole lead. 'On top of that, with the conditions the way they are and the greens as smooth and soft as they are, you are going to have to keep making birdies.'
Woods' partner in all four team sessions last week, Jim Furyk, carded a 6-under 65 and is tied for second place with fellow American Ryder Cupper Stewart Cink (67) and European player David Howell (66). The trio is knotted at 10-under-par 132.
Padraig Harrington, who began the second round tied for second place, only managed a 2-under 69 on Friday. He is alone in fifth place at minus-9, followed by Brett Quigley, who posted a 7-under 64 to complete two rounds at 8-under-par 134.
Woods began on the back nine Friday and wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He ran home a 12-footer for birdie on his first hole, then parred his next seven holes before reaching the par-5 18th tee.
Woods eagled the hole to cap off a brilliant round on Thursday, but on Friday, he kickstarted another strong round. His second landed about 10 feet behind the stick and he drained the eagle putt to make the turn at 3 under par.
'That got things going from there,' said Woods, referring to his putt at 18.
Woods reached the par-5 second green with his second and two-putted for a birdie from 35 feet. He parred the third hole, then, with the top of the leaderboard getting crowded, went on a birdie tear.
He birdied the par-3 fourth and rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the fifth. That birdie sent Woods to 14 under par, and thanks to some mistakes from his closest competitors, gave him a four-shot cushion.
The defending champion padded the advantage one hole later. His drive landed in the right rough, but Woods hit his approach to 12 feet. The 12-time major winner sank the birdie putt, and parred out for a five-shot lead with two rounds to play.
'I hit the ball really well again today,' acknowledged Woods, who won this year's British Open and PGA Championship. 'I've given myself a bunch of chances and I've hit the ball in range to make a bunch of putts, which was nice.'
With Woods' amazing record in the lead, coupled with the amazing run of golf he's on now, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Woods will visit the winner's circle on Sunday.
One other factor that certainly tilts things in Woods' favor is his record in World Golf Championships events. He has won 11 individual titles in these events and has an explanation for his success.
'It's basically very similar to major championships,' reasoned Woods. 'You've got great fields, granted, they're not full fields. It's always nice to play the best players in the world.'
Furyk flew out of the gate on Friday with seven birdies through his first 13 holes. He dropped a shot at six, and with Woods soaring past everyone, Furyk found himself in a distant second.
Cink reached 11 under par with a birdie at six, his 15th on Friday, but trouble loomed at No. 8. He bogeyed that hole and had a makeable birdie shot at nine, but missed.
Howell mixed seven birdies with two bogeys for his 66 and he has as much to play for as anyone. Howell trails good friend Paul Casey for the Order of Merit title with the season ending quickly.
Ian Poulter, who shared second place with Harrington after Thursday's opening round, struggled to an even-par 71 on Friday. He is tied for seventh place with Henrik Stenson (67), Ernie Els (70) and Adam Scott (68) at 7-under-par 135.
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”