Sun, Dec 14, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Tiger claws way back in Challenge after triple bogey

AP , THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA

Tiger Woods was so angry at hitting two balls into the water that he took a drop in an unfavorable spot, likely costing him another shot and sending him tumbling to a triple bogey.

He three-putted for bogey and duffed chips.

The mistakes are glaring halfway through his US$5 million Target World Challenge, although it wasn't difficult to find the upside Friday: Woods is only one shot behind Ireland's Padraig Harrington, and among a dozen guys separated by just four shots.

"If I can just clean it up and play a good, solid round of golf with no mistakes out there," Woods said.

He didn't finish the thought, nor was it his alone.

Harrington, who held off a Sunday charge from Woods to win last year, used the belly of his sand wedge to roll in two putts birdie putts from off the green, and two other putts from the fringe were conventional birdies, with a butter.

All that came over the final six holes, giving the Irishman a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Woods, David Love III and Chris DiMarco.

"There's a lot of ups and downs out there," Harrington said.

They weren't hard to find.

It was below freezing when Woods woke up. Not long after the sun thawed Sherwood Country Club, Woods proceeded to make a "snowman" (8) on the par-5 second hole, where he took the unfavorable drop.

He recovered with six birdies the rest of the day, the last coming from 4.5m on the final hole for a 1-under 71.

"That was probably one of the uglier rounds I possibly could have played," Woods said. "I didn't kill anybody. I didn't kill myself. All in all, it was a good day."

Love never lost the lead until he went long on the par-3 12th for a double bogey, and short into the water on the par-3 15th and had to make a 4.5m putt for bogey. He wound up with a 72.

"I had a chance to run away, so that's a little disappointing," Love said.

DiMarco failed to birdie any of the three par 5s on the back nine, but still managed a 68.

Among the half-dozen players at 1-under 143 was Masters champion Mike Weir, who got so disgusted with missing short putts that he used the blade of his sand wedge on the final hole and made a 1.4m putt for birdie and a 68.

Yes, these are strange times.

About the only thing serious about this week is the money -- a US$5 million purse, with US$1.2 million going to the winner -- and the quality of the field.

"I'd like to see this trophy in my trophy case," DiMarco said. "If you've beaten his field, you've beaten a good field."

All but four of the 16-man field were within four shots of the lead going into the weekend on a Sherwood course that is tough and tricky, a lethal combination for guys who are guaranteed a big check and whose patience ran out some two months ago.

"It's easier to get frustrated now than it was in June," Love said, alluding to the year that began 11 months ago -- and a new season that starts in three weeks.

Nick Price overcame a double bogey at No. 2 for a 69 and was joined at 143 by Fiji's Vijay Singh (69), South Korea's K.J. Choi (71), and Australia's Robert Allenby (71) and Justin Leonard (72).

Woods, who won this tournament two years ago, figures he's in good shape if he can keep the mistakes to a minimum.

So far, that's proven to be quite a challenge. Nothing was more severe than the par-5 second, nor was a single hole more bizarre.

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