Tiger 3 up Down Under
MELBOURNE, Australia — Tiger Woods had a stiff breeze at his back as he stood on the 13th tee, his hand resting on the cover of his driver as he contemplated how to navigate the 354 yards to the green.
With his brawn, Woods could hit driver close to the green, maybe onto the putting surface, for an easy birdie.
He chose to use his brain.
Woods pulled out the 3-iron and hit another ball down the middle of the fairway. It's a shot the fans have been used to seeing over the first two days of the Australian Masters, where the world's No. 1 player has rounds of 66-68 to build a three-shot lead.
Why not go for it? The pin was on the front half of the green, and Woods knew it would be a difficult pitch.
"If the pin was in the back part of the green, I would have probably hit driver and gotten it down there, because then you have the entire green to pitch up," he said.
He hit wedge to about 8 feet and missed the putt. On the same hole, Rod Pampling hit driver to about 40 yards short of the green and pitched the ball through the green and into the back bunker. He had to scramble for par. That was all the evidence Woods needed that he made the right choice.
Woods was at 10-under 134 and in the final group with Jason Dufner, the unheralded American who shot 67 and was three shots behind along with Greg Chalmers (69) and James Nitties (71) of Australia.
LEONARD SURGES INTO LEAD
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Justin Leonard is one of the few players not feeling any pressure this week to secure his PGA Tour card next year.
He's already got that in hand. That much is clear from his play.
Leonard shot an 8-under 64 at the Palms Course in the second round of the Children's Miracle Network Classic yesterday, surging to the top of the leaderboard in the final Tour event of the season.
Leonard had 11 birdies and three bogeys on a sun-baked day at Disney World, where the 15 mph winds caused problems for some players. Justine Rose (69 at Magnolia) and George McNeill (66 at Magnolia) were two strokes back.
Chances to lock up a tour card next year are quickly fading for others. Only those who finish in the top 125 on the money list are guaranteed full status.
Dean Wilson, a Castle High alum who is 152nd on the money list, shot 65 at Magnolia for a 140 total and made the cut of 142. Punahou alum Parker McLachlin, 173rd on the money list, shot 71 at the Palms for a 145.
Taiheiyo Masters: Yasuharu Imano shot a 7-under 65 yesterday to take a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Taiheiyo Masters at Gotemba, Japan. Imano is at 10-under 134. Kaname Yokoo (67), Yusaku Miyazato (67) and Taigen Tsumagari (68) were tied for second. Ryo Ishikawa, the 18-year-old star with four victories this year on the Japan Tour, was five strokes back at 139 after a 71.
Hong Kong Open: Liang Wenchong shot a 5-under 65 yesterday to move into a four-way tie for the lead after the second round of the Hong Kong Open. Liang, the first Chinese player to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit, is at 9-under 131 and tied with Charl Schwartzel (66), Gregory Bourdy (67) and Robert-Jan Derksen (68).