Sun, Dec 08, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Woodland leads in the Bahamas’ World Challenge as Tiger gets within two shots

AP, NASSAU, Bahamas

Tiger Woods’ golf club cover, “Frank,” is pictured during the third round of the Hero World Challenge at the Albany Gold Club in Nassau, the Bahamas, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Two big birdies from Gary Woodland on Friday gave him the lead in the Hero World Challenge. A closing birdie on a hole that has vexed Tiger Woods put him in range of a third victory this year.

Patrick Reed fully expected to be right there until watching video of his club moving sand away from his golf ball in a waste area, leading to a two-shot penalty in a round that did not go all that well in the first place.

The end of an entertaining round in this holiday event in the tropics set up what figures to be a lively conclusion. Woodland’s final two birdies gave him a four-under-par 68 and a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson.

Six players were separated by three shots.

That includes Woods, who has not won his event since it was in California in 2011.

“I just have to focus on going out there and making birdies,” Woods said.

Woodland makes his Presidents Cup debut next week, and he appears to be in good form. He dropped only one shot, gave another way by failing to birdie the par-five 15th hole, and then finished in style. First, he holed a 30-foot putt on the par-three 17th hole. Then, with the wind at his back, he hit wedge to 3 feet for another birdie.

On Thursday, he ended his round with three straight birdies.

“It was a nice finish, same as yesterday,” he said. “So excited about where I’m at and I look forward to tomorrow.”

The next two weeks cap off a memorable year for Woodland, who won his first major at Pebble Beach in the US Open, and then his wife had twins. This is the first time traveling with the entire family — three children under two years old — and they could not fit all the car seats and strollers on the airplane.

It was a forgettable day for Reed in so many ways.

Staked to a three-shot lead, he did not make a birdie until the 14th hole, a short par four that can be reached off the tee. He added two more down the stretch, only to lose two strokes in the scoring room.

Reed was in a sandy waste area left of the fairway on the par-five 11th hole when video clearly caught his sand wedge removing sand right behind the ball — twice — during practice swings.

That is a breach of Rule 8.1a (4) on removing or pressing down sand or loose soil.

The club was farther away from the ball than it looked on television, Reed said, adding that with the face being open, he did not realize that the club had brushed away sand because “I didn’t feel it drag.”

“So after seeing the video, it’s a two-stroke penalty — I accept that,” Reed said.

He is still very much in the picture after his 74, three shots behind with only five players in front of him after a day of feeling as though nothing was going in the hole.

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