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Newz Forum: GOLF: DiMarco charges, but Singh still leads by two

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posted on Sep, 25 2004 @ 10:04 AM
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FARMINGTON, Pa. -- Their Ryder Cup experience was so miserable, the magnitude of the United States' loss to Europe so great, Tiger Woods and Kenny Perry decided to pull out of the 84 Lumber Classic, Chris DiMarco didn't, and now he's in contention to win the tournament.
 

DiMarco shook off the disappointment he has felt since last weekend to shoot Friday's best round, a 7-under 65, and put some pressure on leader Vijay Singh, who followed up his opening-round 64 with a steady-as-he-goes 68.

Singh leads 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis by two shots with DiMarco another stroke back.

Singh actually had a bogey -- his only one in two days -- but opened with two consecutive birdies and added three more during a round that could have been even better if he hadn't missed several short putts.

Singh, who can set a PGA Tour season money record by winning the $756,000 first prize, liked how he putted despite the results. He blamed several misses on the still-maturing and tough-to-read greens at the 7,471-yard Mystic Rock course, all 18 of which were rebuilt after being criticized by last year's field for being too soft and too easy.

"It's pretty hard to read the greens," he said. "The greens are not settled. And just when you think you've got the right line, after putting you know the line then. ... I probably had three or four (misses) from inside eight feet. But I made some long ones to equalize that."

Singh also played were scoring conditions were less favorable, after the Allegheny Mountain winds that gave shots some extra length died down in the afternoon and the greens became chewed up. He was one of the first players on the course Thursday, when he took advantage of prime scoring conditions with an eagle and six birdies for his 64.

"I'm quite happy," said Singh, who recently overtook Woods for the world No. 1 ranking. "I've got the weekend to go and there are a few more chances out there."

DiMarco's 65 also came in the afternoon, after he took advantage of his later starting time to enjoy some much-needed sleep. His 2-1-1 Ryder Cup record was the best of the Americans, but the one-sided 18½-9½ loss to Europe stayed with him for several days and affected his preparation for this weekend.

DiMarco might have withdrawn, as Woods and Perry did, if he hadn't promised four close friends weeks ago he would take them to next weekend's World Golf Championship event in Ireland for free. Joe Hardy, 84 Lumber's fabulously wealthy owner, offered any golfer a free trip for five if he played this weekend en route to Ireland.

"Mr. Hardy made an unbelievable deal," DiMarco said. "But the Ryder Cup was exhausting. ... Wednesday, I was out of it and Thursday it was still on my mind and I probably wasn't ready, but getting a good night's sleep really helped today. I hit a lot of solid shots and gave myself a lot of chances."

The other two U.S. Ryder Cup members both made the cut, with David Toms at 3 under, nine off the lead, and Stewart Cink at 2 under.

Curtis, all but invisible since his being one of the most surprising major winners ever at the 2003 British Open, has had consecutive 67s -- a much-welcomed start for a golfer who has missed the cut in five consecutive tournaments and seven of 11.

He has only one top 10 finish since the British Open, leading after two rounds of the Memorial before finishing eighth.

"It's going to be a long weekend," he said. "I haven't played 72 holes in a long time."

He played well Friday despite wearing Cleveland Browns colors -- the bright orange shirt was a giveaway -- in Pittsburgh Steelers country. He realizes he might not want to try that over the weekend, when the crowds figure to be larger.

"Hopefully, by this weekend, I will have some Steelers stuff," he said.

Singh is five shots up on Kent Jones, Joey Sindelar and J.P. Hayes, who are tied at 7 under. Sindelar and Hayes both had 69s Friday and Jones followed up a 69 with a 68, only the second time in 16 tournaments he has had consecutive rounds in the 60s.




posted on Sep, 26 2004 @ 08:23 AM
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Despite uneven round, Singh still leads 84 Lumber Classic

FARMINGTON, Pennsylvania -- Vijay Singh is making it look easy by winning tournament after tournament, and millions upon millions of dollars, while chasing Tiger Woods' single-season money record.

A slow-lifting fog and slow-moving players conspired Saturday to make for one of Singh's toughest days in weeks, yet his ability to turn bad lies into good shots helped him to an even-par 72 that kept him in the 84 Lumber Classic lead.

"I didn't play as well as I did the first two days," said Singh, who started 64-68 at the 7,471-yard Mystic Rock course. "My rhythm wasn't there. I was struggling to find it all day. But I still lead by two, so I'm not that disappointed."

Even when it doesn't come so easily, Singh is difficult to knock out of the lead.

Repeatedly following poor shots with exceptional ones on a day when some of his best play came merely to save par, Singh finished at 12-under 204 to lead Chris DiMarco by two shots and Jonathan Byrd and Matt Gogel by three entering Sunday's final round.

Singh can break Woods' single-season money record of $9.1 million set in 2000 by winning the $756,000 first prize, or, if he plays in two late-season no-cut tournaments that offer guaranteed money, by finishing second.

Heavy fog shrouded the mountaintop resort course for the third straight morning, forcing a delay in play and the decision to go out in threesomes rather than twosomes. That meant some players, including Singh, started earlier than expected so the finish could be televised.

Play lagged all day as a result, with Singh, DiMarco and Ben Curtis needing 5 hours and 20 minutes for their round -- about 80 minutes slower than usual. That's why Singh wasn't surprised when the quality of play dropped off late in the afternoon, too.

"The pace of play was strained," Singh said. "You play the holes and then you wait 10 minutes on the next tee. ... I called it (to the attention) of the official on the 10th hole, and it didn't seem to help much."

DiMarco also disliked the pace, and the decision to play in threes.

"We would have finished before (Friday's ending time) easily in twosomes," he said. "But they wanted to get it in, and I think TV wanted a certain time, too. That was the ultimate decision."

DiMarco, one of only three U.S. team members competing after last weekend's Ryder Cup wipeout in suburban Detroit, repeatedly tried to make a move at Singh. But Singh held him off each time despite being in the 70s for only the second time in 11 rounds.

"It makes you aware you can take nothing for granted," Singh said of an uneven round that included three bogeys, two more than in his first two rounds combined. "If you're not careful, it can grab up and bite you."

DiMarco's bark was better than his bite. Three birdies on the front side seemed a portend of a possible big day, but DiMarco bogeyed the last two holes and three of the final five to settle for a one-under 71 that cut only one shot off the three-shot lead Singh brought into the third round.

Singh's lead was down to one after he bogeyed No. 11, but DiMarco gave a stroke back with a bogey at the par-4 14th. Singh got up and down from the fringe to save par on the par-4 15th, then made an even better recovery at the par-5, 526-yard 16th.

After hitting his second shot into the water, Singh needed to chip in from 25 feet along the right front fringe to save par -- and did exactly that, avoiding a two-shot swing on a hole DiMarco birdied.

Singh bogeyed the par-3 17th by driving into the pot bunker placed strategically in the middle of the green and missing a 12-footer, but DiMarco missed his 8-footer for par and also bogeyed.

Singh couldn't make an 8-footer for birdie on No. 18, yet DiMarco again failed to take advantage. He made an excellent recovery after hooking his drive onto a steep upward slope far to the left of the fairway, but couldn't make a 10-foot par putt.

"Thankfully, Vijay didn't run away with the tournament," DiMarco said. "Obviously, I would have liked to have finished par-par and been right there with him. But nobody really did much."



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