Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Woods stretches lead at World Challenge, inches closer to first victory this year

AFP, THOUSAND OAKS, California

Britain’s Lee Westwood reacts after missing a putt on the seventh hole during the second day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Tiger Woods carded a six-under par 66 without a bogey on Friday to stretch his lead atop the World Challenge tournament to four shots over US Open champion Graeme McDowell.

Woods, the 14-time major champion and former world No. 1 who hasn’t won a tournament since last year’s Australian Masters, had a 36-hole total of 13-under 131.

This unofficial 18-player event, which Woods hosts for the benefit of his charitable foundation, is the US superstar’s last chance to snag a victory this year, a year that started amid scandal and saw his struggles on the course mirror his personal travails.

Until this week, Woods’ only appearance atop a leaderboard this year was a share of first place after the first round of The Barclays.

Woods, however, said he felt right at home there.

“It feels good,” he said. “I’ve been here before, so it’s not a strange feeling. It’s just one of those things where tomorrow is the same game plan, just go out there and plot my way along and take care of the par-fives.”

Woods kickstarted his round with an eagle at the 531-yard, par-five second hole, where he stuck his approach from the edge of the fairway within 10 feet.

In two days, Woods has played the 10 par-fives at Sherwood Country Club in 10-under.

“I didn’t hit the ball quite as sharp as I did yesterday, but I felt better with the putter,” Woods said. “I hit a lot of pure putts, made a bunch of five and six-footers all day today.”

McDowell carded a 69 for 135, while Rory McIlroy, like McDowell from Northern Ireland, took double-bogey at the final hole and settled for a 70 that put him on 136, alongside England’s Luke Donald (66).

McDowell said he was pleased to squeeze as much as he did out of his round, his eight birdies countering three bogeys and a double-bogey six at the ninth.

“Not my best ball-striking round today,” McDowell said. “Played great yesterday, had it on a string, and today I wasn’t quite sure where it was going to go. But hung tough ... to shoot three-under and not play my best, I’m pretty happy with that.”

SUN CITY CHALLENGE

Reuters, SUN CITY, South Africa

World No. 1 Lee Westwood gave a golfing master-class to sprint three shots clear of the field after the Sun City Challenge second round on Friday.

The 37-year-old Briton fired an eight-under-par 64, with four birdies on each nine and no bogeys, to finish on 12-under 132 at the Gary Player Country Club.

Westwood ended his round with a flourish as another immaculate approach shot to the 18th left him with a 12-foot birdie putt that he sank.

Fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup teammate Ross Fisher carded a 68 to take second spot on 135.

Westwood is competing in only his third tournament in eight weeks because of a long-term leg injury.

“I was feeling a little bit rusty but I have got into the swing of things now,” he told reporters. “Today was much more like me, getting the most out of the round.”

Overnight leader Padraig Harrington, another member of Europe’s triumphant Ryder Cup side, could only manage a 72 as he wound up six strokes off the pace.

Fisher was the first player to catch the Irishman with a birdie at the par-five second hole.

Westwood then rolled in a 35-foot putt for birdie on the par-four third before picking up more shots at the fifth and sixth.

Edoardo Molinari, who also featured in the Ryder Cup win in October, claimed eagle threes at the second and 10th to climb into contention.

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