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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 24, 2006

Furyk, Love III share two-shot lead in TPC

By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Tiger Woods shot a first-round even-par 72 at The Players Championship, but clearly had other things on his mind.

STEPHEN MORTON | Associated Press

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. Tiger Woods described his day as "sporadic," which could have meant a golf game that left him seven shots behind yesterday at The Players Championship, or a mind that wandered between his ailing father in California and the perils of the TPC at Sawgrass.

He wasn't fatigued from a 24-hour, coast-to-coast trip to check on Earl Woods.

Nor was he disgusted with five bogeys that offset five birdies on a cool, damp afternoon that left him closer to the cut line than the 7-under 65s posted early by Davis Love III and Jim Furyk.

"Unfortunately, my mechanics weren't very good," Woods said.

After an even-par 72, Woods spoke as much about putting as perspective.

"You hit a bad shot and you want to get upset with yourself because you know you can hit better shots," Woods said. "But you know what? In the whole scheme of things, it's just a golf shot."

His 74-year-old father's body is wracked with cancer, and Woods said he flew home to lift his spirits. Golf was not part of their conversation.

"It's not about me hitting golf shots. It's about him," Woods said. "I want him around as long as possible. It's all about him feeling better, and keep fighting and keep hanging in there."

As Woods pulled into the parking lot, Love and Furyk were on a different pace on the course, headed for the same destination. Love started quickly and was steady to the end, while Furyk his dinner companion the night before opened with seven pars and closed with a 31 on the back nine.

They had a two-shot lead over Robert Allenby, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Bernhard Langer, who conquered the treacherous island-green 17th with his 20th career birdie. Vijay Singh was among those another shot behind on a cool, but calm day on the Stadium Course.

"The course is there," Love said. "If you hit it in the fairways and putted, you were going to do well."

Any memories for Love would have been warm ones, especially on this golf course where he has won twice, even in a rain suit that he wore from start-to-finish.

"After 4 under through nine, it wasn't going to come off," he said.

He had on navy rain gear three years ago in cool, blustery conditions when Love closed with a 64, matching the best closing round by a winner at The Players Championship.

If it wasn't the attire, maybe it was something in the casserole at Furyk's house Wednesday night, a small gathering that included Furyk, Love, Brad Faxon (70), Phil Mickelson (70) and Justin Leonard (75).

"It must have been real good, because it worked for Jim and I," Love said.

Mickelson had five birdies, but he dunked his tee shot on the 17th for double bogey, hit a tee shot in the water at No. 15 and scrambled for bogey, and wound up with a 70.

"Maybe Phil didn't eat enough," Love said.

Hawai'i's Dean Wilson, making his 10 consecutive start, shot nines of 37-34 for a 1-under 71.

The Castle High and BYU alum made four birdies to offset three bogeys.