Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Montgomerie, Woods, Furyk all tied up

PRO GOLF Following the first round of the Target World Challenge on a pristine day at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, the leader board was knotted

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Tiger Woods, left walks across a bridge on the second hole during the first round of the Target World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Colin Montgomerie hit a 5-wood into about 8 feet for eagle on the 15th hole, giving him a 4-under 67 and a share of the lead with Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk after the Target World Challenge first round on Thursday.

"I played quite well," Montgomerie said. "Anytime you can equal Tiger Woods, well, that's OK."

Woods and Furyk didn't do anything quite so dramatic. They just kept out of trouble and avoided the kind of mistakes that knocked Chris DiMarco out of the lead twice and sent Vijay Singh to a 3-over 74, matching the worst round on a pristine day at Sherwood Country Club.

Woods overcame a sluggish start with a 5-iron out of the damp rough and under a tree that came within inches of going into the hole at No. 4. That left him a tap-in birdie.

Furyk was among three players who had the outright lead on the back nine until he missed the 18th green, chipped to 12 feet and watched his par putt turn away just at the end.

All of them have something to play for in Woods' year-end tournament with 15 of the best players in golf.

Woods failed to win a stroke-play event on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career and lost his No. 1 ranking to Singh, but recently said his swing changes were coming together. He won in Japan last month, and sees this tournament as another building block for next year.

"I'm making some great strides," he said.

Furyk had surgery on his left wrist in March, missed the first half of the season and failed to win on the PGA Tour for the first time since 1997. Not even a victory at Target or the US$1.25 million check -- the largest in the US -- can make up for that.

"Whether I play poorly or great, that's not going to change my outlook on this year or next year," Furyk said. "I just want to stay sharp."

Australian Bradley Hughes rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole yesterday to complete a 6-under-par 66 and take a four-shot lead after two rounds of play.

Hughes, who won the Australian Masters in 1993 and 1998, had to complete a first-round 64 earlier Friday after thunderstorms forced him off the Huntingdale course Thursday when he was at 7-under after 11 holes.

His two-round total of 14-under-par 130 was four ahead of defending champion Robert Allenby of Australia, who is at 134 after a 68.

Two Australians were tied for third at 135, five shots off the lead -- David McKenzie after his second straight 68, and Peter Lonard, who shot 67 Friday.

Lonard, who has won three tournaments in a row, including the Australian Open and last week's Australia PGA championship, is trying to become the first golfer to win the Australian `Slam' that concludes with the Masters.

American Ricky Barnes, the former US Amateur champion, was in a group of four tied for fifth, six shots behind Hughes after his second straight 68. Nine golfers, including American Hunter Mahan, were another stroke back tied for ninth at 7-under 137, Mahan after a 68.

Corey Pavin, the 1995 US Open champion from the US, had a 70 Friday and is at 138, eight shots back.

Hughes, who said he played 28 rounds in a row at par or better on the Nationwide Tour this year, helping him finish in the top 20 with a tournament win and acquire his US PGA Tour card for 2005, said he was pleased to be back at the Masters for the first time since 1998.

Bruce McDonald of Zimbabwe upstaged Ernie Els with a 6-under 66 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead over the South African star at the PGA European Tour's season opening Dunhill Championship.

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