By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO -- Charlie Wi fielded the questions about the 13 he made last Sunday on the fifth hole at Innisbrook with characteristic good humor.
"Actually I figured I should have gone for some TOUR record so at least I could be remembered," Wi said with a wry smile.
For the record, he was five shots shy of the dubious mark that
John Daly set on the sixth hole at Bay Hill in 1998. And besides,
Wi had much better things to discuss on Thursday after firing a 66
at Bay Hill to share the lead with Jason Dufner at the Arnold
Palmer Invitation presented by MasterCard.
"The golf course is playing very difficult," Wi said. "It was really windy this morning starting right off the bat and I was able to control the ball really well. I gave myself a lot of opportunities and I was able to make some putts I'm very pleased with 66."
Given his track record at Bay Hill, the round of 6 under was even more special. Granted, it matched his career-best here -- but it also marked just the second time he'd broken par in 10 rounds at Palmer's personal playground.
"I haven't had too many strong finishes and I've never really done well here," said Wi, who has missed two cuts, withdrawn once and tied for 24th last year. "If I had shot a couple under today before I teed off, I would have been very pleased so to shoot 66 is a pleasant surprise."
Don't think he didn't come to Bay Hill with high hopes, though. "I'm still a competitor," Wi said. "I want to do well, so when the birdies are going in, I was making sure that I kept pressing myself to make some more."
Wi, who finished second at Pebble Beach earlier this year as Phil Mickelson tried to lap the field, was solid overall, hitting 10 fairways and 14 greens while using just 28 putts. The 40-year-old made seven birdies and dropped just one shot to par on Thursday.
At one point, though, Bay Hill wasn't exactly on Wi's list of favorite courses. Two par 5s -- Nos. 4 and 16 -- were converted to par 4s for the tournament, and "I told my caddie, I said this course isn't for me," Wi recalled. "... I just thought it was too much of a bomber's golf course and I just couldn't compete."
Once the holes were restored to par 5s, Wi's attitude changed. Someone suggested the par was just a number, but he simply grinned. "Yeah, but I was immature back then," Wi said, smiling again.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Charlie Wi made a 13 Sunday on the par-5 fifth hole at the Transitions Championship.
The trouble began when Wi’s drive landed in the right rough and came to rest next to a woodchip. Wi tried to hit 6-iron, but the woodchip caused the ball to shoot dead right and into the tress.
Wi tried to hit his third shot through a 5-6 foot v-shaped opening in the tree in front of him but instead his 5-iron hit the stump and the ball ricocheted into the driving range. He took a drop, hit 5-iron and again watched as his ball again went into the range.
“That’s not getting up so give me 6-iron,” Wi said he told his caddie.
Whack. The same thing happened.
“The range just stopped,” Wi said. “Everyone was looking at me.”
By this point, Wi had dug such a divot he couldn’t attempt the same shot again, so he chipped out -- only his ball landed behind a tree, forcing him to chip out again.
Once he got out of the trees in 10, Wi hit onto the green and two-putted for the 13.
“I should have just gone [Kevin] Na and beat him,” Wi joked afterward, referring to the 16 Na made during last year’s Valero Texas Open.
Adding to the problem was that Wi started the day with only six golf balls in his bag. “I was going to ask for one back from the standard bearer,” his caddie joked.
This was the second straight week a player made an unusually high number. In the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, Sergio Garcia made a 12.
Wi finished his round strong, though, playing his last four holes in one less stroke with four straight 3s, including two birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to shoot 78.
Charlie Wi, the 54-hole leader, got off to a horrible start. He just four-putted from 35-1/2 feet for a double bogey on the first hole at Pebble Beach.
Fifteen minutes earlier, Wi started his round with a three-shot lead. Now it’s one shot over playing partner Ken Duke.
It was Wi’s first double bogey of the week. He had bogey-free rounds at Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula but suffered four bogeys (against five birdies and an eagle) in his earlier round at Pebble Beach this week.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The good news for Charlie Wi is that he still has a three-shot cushion. The bad news is he has some major firepower right behind him.
It’s been a few holes since Tiger Woods has made a birdie -- he made five of them in a seven-hole stretch at one point -- but he’s still right there in a tie for second, and he has a par-5 still left to play.
Right there with Woods is Padraig Harrington, who is 3 under through nine holes at Spyglass Hill. Harrington, by the way, also leads the celebrity portion of the event with European businessman J.P. McManus as his partner.
Another shot back is two-time AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner Dustin Johnson. He started his round with two straight bogeys but has come back nicely at 1 under through 14 holes. Johnson will be disappointed if he didn’t take more advantage of the easiest course in the rotation, but if he wins he obviously won’t care.
Phil Mickelson isn’t totally out of it either. He’s 1 under through 5 holes on Pebble Beach and 8 under for the week, five shots back of Wi.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Five birdies over the last seven holes. That’s what Tiger Woods has done to get within three of Charlie Wi’s shrinking lead. Wi actually saw his lead cut to two briefly before a birdie on No. 12 at Spyglass Hill to move to 14 under.
It’s not so much that Wi has played poorly -- he has two birdies and no bogeys on the most difficult course on the property -- it’s just that Woods has been borderline spectacular. Woods is 5 under through 11 holes at Pebble Beach, where he’s putted the ball very well with just 15 putts so far.
Woods isn’t the only playing well, though. Padraig Harrington, who needs to win if he has any hope of qualifying for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in two weeks, is 3 under through his first seven holes at Spyglass Hill. That has him tied for second with Woods and Joseph Bramlett.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Charlie Wi still has the lead at 13 under, but for how long? There is an awful lot of movement behind him on the leaderboard with a ton of big names lurking.
Padraig Harrington, who earlier this week talked about the need to not only play well but win if he’s going to make the European Ryder Cup team, is 10 under after birdies on each of his first two holes at Spyglass Hill.
Jospeh Bramlett is also 10 under after making a double-eagle on the par-5 11th at Spyglass Hill.
Then there’s Tiger Woods, who bounced back from an early bogey with three straight birdies to get to 2 under through his first seven holes and within five of the lead at 8 under overall.
Dustin Johnson also recovered from a rough start. He bogeyed his first two holes at Monterey Peninsula but has since added a birdie and is also 8 under.
Phil Mickelson is in the hunt, too. He’s made two birdies (and one bogey) through his first eight holes on Pebble Beach and is among the eight players tied for sixth at 8 under.