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Golf briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 26, 2001

Furyk maintains lead over Tiger

AKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods was on the verge of pulling away. Phil Mickelson was throwing away his chances with a bad drive and a bizarre penalty. Through it all, Jim Furyk kept calm Saturday in the NEC Invitational.

Reeling from consecutive bogeys that dropped him from the lead, Furyk recovered with birdies on four of his last five holes for 4-under 66 and maintained his two-stroke lead over Woods at Firestone Country Club.

"It turned into a very, very good day," Furyk said.

It set up one of the biggest challenges of Furyk's career -- a chance to win a World Golf Championship by going head-to-head with the best player in the world playing his best golf of the summer.

Woods, in contention for the first time since he won the Memorial by seven strokes in May, also shot 66. At stake today is a chance to become the first to win three straight times at Firestone.

"Leading the golf tournament by two and teeing off with Tiger in the last group ... there's a lot worse positions I could be in," said Furyk, who was at 197. "I think most players would be excited to be put in that position and getting to test themselves."

Mickelson would have liked to have been part of the mix.

Instead, he teed off on No. 16 with a new ball that wasn't marked and sprayed it into the rough. He lifted the ball to make sure it was his but didn't tell his playing partner, Furyk, what he was doing. That's a one-stroke penalty. A bogey turned into double bogey and forced Mickelson to sign for 70, leaving him six strokes behind.

Woods recovered from a rugged stretch early in his round for his seventh straight round at 67 or better at Firestone. Pleased with his position, Woods was more satisfied with how he was hitting the ball.

"I feel a lot better about my game," Woods said. "I got myself right there, in contention with a chance to win."

Bradenton's Paul Azinger, taken Monday as a Ryder Cup captain's pick, shot 65 and finished at 202 along with Darren Clarke.

In an effort to avoid predicted afternoon storms today, the 38-player field will go off the first and 10th tees two hours earlier than planned, starting at 7:45 a.m. The CBS telecast will be shown on tape delay in its original 2-6 p.m. slot.

U.S. AMATEUR: Bubba Dickerson and Robert Hamilton advanced to the final in Atlanta, and their semifinal victories earned each a berth in next year's Masters. Dickerson of Hilliard edged Brian Nosler 1-up in a match tinged with bitter feelings after Dickerson failed to concede a putt of less than a foot on No. 11. Dickerson, a 20-year-old junior at Florida, holed a chip from the rough at 16 and made a 40-foot putt at 17 for birdies that pushed him from 1-down to 1-up. He clinched the win with a 4-footer on the 18th. Hamilton defeated Colombia's Manuel Merizalde 2 and 1 by winning four straight holes on the back side.

RENO-TAHOE OPEN: Jerry Kelly shot 67 for a one-stroke lead over PGA Tour novice Bryce Molder. Kelly, who has finished in the top 10 six times this year but has not won a PGA event, had seven birdies and two bogeys to move past Molder and Charles Howell, another 22-year-old former NCAA champion, at 15-under 201. Molder, a four-time all-American at Georgia Tech making his debut as a pro on tour after winning the NCAA title, birdied the last two holes to shoot 67 for 202. Howell, the 2000 NCAA champion from Oklahoma State, birdied his first two holes and overcame a pair of bogeys on the back nine to shoot 69 for 13-under 203. John Cook, who led after the second round, shot 74.

BETSY KING CLASSIC: Moira Dunn shot 4-under 68 for a two-stroke lead in the LPGA event at Kutztown, Pa. Dunn, seeking her first win, had five birdies to move to 14-under 202 after beginning the day with a one-shot edge. The leaderboard remained tight with six golfers within three strokes of the lead.

CANADIAN SENIORS: Walter Hall putted his way to the top of the leaderboard, shooting 6-under 65 for a one-stroke lead in the Senior PGA event at Mississauga, Ontario. Hall, a former appliance sales manager who has six runner-up finishes in five senior seasons, needed just 26 putts. He finished at 14-under 199, with second-round leader Jim Thorpe a stroke back.

SCOTTISH PGA: Alex Cejka shot 6-under 66 for a one-shot lead in the European PGA event at Gleneagles. Cejka moved to 12-under 204, one ahead of Paul Casey (67) and two better than Justin Rose (68). Second-round leader Gary Evans shot 77 and slipped to 16th.

TAMPA BAY CLASSIC: John Daly, who teamed with Laura Davies to win the 1999 JCPenney Classic at Innisbrook's Copperhead course, has committed to play in the PGA event on the course Sept. 13-16. Daly won the 1991 PGA Championship and the '95 British Open.

SAM PARKS JUNIOR INVITATIONAL: Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 4-under 67, the low round of the day among boys and girls, for the girls first-round lead at Belleair Country Club. The tournament serves as a memorial to Parks, the 1935 U.S. Open champion who was a member at the club. Lincicome, 15, made five birdies. Megan Riley of Largo was nine back in second place. Clifton Williams of Seminole and Doug Morse-Schindler of Largo shared the boys first-round lead at 70.

-- Times correspondent Dave Theall contributed to this report.

* * *

TODAY ON TV: European, Scottish PGA, 10 a.m., GC; LPGA, Betsy King Classic, 1, GC; World Golf Championship NEC Invitational, 2, Ch. 10 (taped); U.S. Amateur Championship, 4, Ch. 8; PGA, Reno-Tahoe Open 8, GC (taped).

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