Tiger Woods felt he played well enough to score in the mid-60s yesterday and take a comfortable lead into the weekend at the NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio. One hole changed everything but his outlook.
Woods's 8-iron caromed off a tree and 20 yards to the right. From there, a 7-iron bounded through the green and into deep rough. When he had finished chopping up the 18th hole, Woods shot an even-par 70 that dropped him into a share of the lead with Luke Donald and invited a host of others into the tournament.
Donald made three straight birdies early in his round and shot 67, joining Woods at 4-under 136.
"I didn't shoot myself out of the tournament by making double, and that's a good thing," Woods said. "We've got a long way to go and I'm playing well, so I just need to keep doing what I'm doing."
Woods wasn't alone in his late-round misery.
Vijay Singh was tied for the lead at 5 under until he dumped his third shot into the water on the 667-yard 16th hole and had to chip in with a fairway metal for a bogey. He spun his approach off the 17th green and failed to save par from 10 feet, and he nearly made it three straight bogeys until he escaped with a pitch to four feet on the last hole.
He shot 71 and was at 3-under 137.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden was one shot behind until he found the left rough on the 18th hole, took two shots to advance the ball to the front of the green and also took double bogey for a 71 that put him one shot back.
Also at 137 were PGA runner-up Thomas Bjorn, Paul McGinley and Chris DiMarco, who avoided such calamity. Bjorn played bogey-free for a 67, while McGinley had a 66 to match the low score on the day.
PGA champion Phil Mickelson had a 72 and was at 141, among 22 players within five shots of the lead.
* LPGA TOUR: Rookie Sung Ah Yim and Soo Yun Kang each shot 8-under 64s for a one-stroke lead over Rosie Jones and defending champion Hee Won Han after the first round of the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore.
Yim had six birdies on the front nine, leading to the best round of her first LPGA season. The 21-year-old from South Korea, who has two top-10 finishes this year, made a 35-foot chip shot to birdie the par-4 fourth hole.
"It's my best score, 8 under, and I feel good today," Yim said.
Australian Wendy Doolan, Laura Diaz, and Aree Song were two shots back at 66 after the first round's conclusion.
* PGA TOUR: Defending champion Vaughn Taylor shot a 67 to take the second-round lead at the Reno-Tahoe Open with a tournament record 13-under 131, and Bill Glasson shot a course record 10-under 62 to move into contention.
Todd Fischer, playing in his home town of Reno, Nev., birdied his first five holes for a 67 and was in second place at 12 under at Montreux Golf and Country Club. Glasson was two more shots back after knocking in a pair of eagles.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Kite, Jim Thorpe, Brad Bryant and Morris Hatalsky each shot 6-under 66s to share the first-round lead at the Greater Seattle Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash.