AKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods broke par for the first time this week on Saturday when he shot 68 at Firestone Country Club.
Woods finished his round Saturday just as the leader, Jim Furyk, teed off. Furyk starts the final round at 11 under while Woods finished it even par for the tournament.
Woods’ playing partner, Branden Grace, posted what was the best score of the day when he finished, a 66 that moved him into a tie for 16th at 2 under.
AKRON, Ohio -- Bo Van Pelt has had an interesting front nine.
The veteran just turned in 32 after making birdie putts of 17 and 19 feet on Nos. 8 and 9 -- bringing his total for the first nine holes to three. Van Pelt also managed to sandwich a 9-foot eagle putt between bogeys at Nos. 1 and 3.
He's now 4 under and tied for 11th, seven strokes behind the leader, Jim Furyk, who tees off in 18 minutes.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy has birdied two of his first three holes to move to 5 under. Also on the course at that number are Keegan Bradley, who just birdied the second hole, and John Senden, who birdied the first.
AKRON, Ohio -- Tee times for Sunday’s final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational have been moved up due to expected bad weather.
Players will be sent off two tees in threesomes beginning at 8 a.m. Tee times will run from 8-10 a.m. on the front nine and 8-9:50 a.m. on the back.
The weather forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms which should arrive in the morning and continue to threaten into the afternoon. Winds will be in the 15-25 mph-range with higher gusts.
According to the announcement released by the rules committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours, “there is a likelihood of suspensions throughout the day but we feel that we must make use of any window of playable weather that arrives.”
AKRON, Ohio -- Branden Grace spent the first two rounds of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational playing with one of his idols, Tiger Woods.
Grace found himself in Woods' group on Saturday, as well, after opening with a 72 and reeling off 18 pars on Friday. The South African is on a tear, too -- making five birdies on the front nine to turn in 30, which is one shot off the record.
Grace, who has three European Tour victories this year, two-putted from 33 feet at the second hole for his first birdie. His other birdie putts have come from 5, 7, 5 and 10 feet so he’s now moved to 3 under for the tournament.
Woods, on the other hand, made the turn in 34 and is 1 over for the tournament.
AKRON, Ohio -- Ben Crane withdrew from the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on Saturday with back pain.
Crane had just hit his second shot on the sixth hole and was even par for the day and 1 over for the tournament. He was playing with Kyle Stanley.
Toru Taniguchi withdrew after the second round with stomach issues.
AKRON, Ohio – Jim Furyk will take a two-stroke lead into the third round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational when he tees off with Rafael Cabrera Bello at 2 p.m ET.
* Furyk, who won the FedExCup in 2010, currently ranks 25th in the standings on the strength of four top-10 finishes in 2012. With a victory he could move into the top-10 in FEC standings.
* Furyk has led or shared the 36-hole lead 20 times in his career and won four times. The most recent was at the 2010 TOUR Championship, which helped clinch his FedExCup win.
* Furyk ranks 36th in strokes gained putting in 2012. However, this week he ranks first -- bettering the field by more than three strokes per round. Furyk is averaging 25.5(2) putts per round and one-putting 22 of his first 36 holes.
* He’s made an average of 119 feet of putts per round to lead the field in this category.
* For the week Furyk has made a field-leading 12 birdies -- bettering the field average by five after 36 holes. He also is tied for first in par-5 scoring with one eagle and two birdies playing the par 5s at 4 under.
* He ranks first in scoring average and second in birdie average
|Statistic||2012 Season (Rank)||This Week (Rank)|
|Strokes Gained Putting||.38 (36)||3.51 (1)|
|One-Putt Percentage||38.51 percent (81)||61.11 percent (1)|
|Putts Per Round||29.0 (T77)||25.5 (T2)|
|Distance of Putts Made||66 feet (T184)||119 feet (1)|
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AKRON, Ohio – Rafael Cabrera Bello hit just four fairways in the second round and yet shot 5 under. How did he do it? With scrambling. He leads the tournament in getting the ball up and down, missing 12 greens but getting up and down 10 times. That's not luck. The Spaniard says he has missed fairways and some greens but has controlled his misses to the correct side.
Phil's thrills: Phil Mickelson broke his streak. He had gone 10 straight rounds without breaking par until shooting 69 on Friday and he did it despite hitting just three fairways the entire day. Mickelson says he is piecing his game together. He's confident with his irons, has work to do with his driver and has a new weapon for a putter -- a prototype Odyssey that he used on Friday and says will be in his bag this weekend. He took 31 putts in the opening round and 27 in the second round.
Tiger tracks: Tiger Woods says he discovered something on his 17th hole in the second round. He has struggled this week with his putter, taking 33 putts in the first round and 29 on Friday. It appeared to me he is quick in the transition area, something I first noticed on the West Coast. Tiger says it is a path problem. He has been unable to marry the path and speed properly this week but was encouraged by making a putt on his 17th hole. We'll see if the correction is a fix or a band-aid this weekend.
Putting: It's said that a balky putter can work its way through a golfer's entire bag. He starts thinking he must hit it inside of five feet to make a putt, and to hit it close he must first hit his driver in the fairway. Well, the exact opposite is also true. A hot putter can give a player confidence in his entire arsenal, freeing up the entire golf swing. That may be what's happened to Jim Furyk this week. He has taken 26 and 25 putts in the first two rounds. For the season he is ranked 36th on TOUR in Strokes-Gained Putting compared with 2011 when he was a frustrating 150th. There is nothing like a hot putter to give a player confidence in his entire game.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio and is inside the ropes this week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson says he's "piecing it together" right now.
The irons are good. The driver? Not so much. And while his short game leaves a bit to be desired, the new putter Mickelson put into play on Friday certainly has him energized.
Mickelson has played two rounds at Firestone in even par, shooting 71 in the first and a 69 on Friday. His stats, as might be expected given his own assessment, are a mixed bag, though. He's tied for ninth in greens in regulation, hitting 25 of his first 36 -- which is pretty darn good considering he's missed 18 fairways.
"My irons are really good," Mickelson said. "I feel really good with my irons. I've got good distance control, control with my misses. They're about as good as they've been and about as good as I can expect, and my putting was much better.
"My short game needs some work. I've been spending so much time on long game, my short game needs some work. I didn't get up and down any of the times I missed the green. And obviously my driver. I've got to spend some time now with my driver and 3-wood getting it in play because that was horrific."
Mickelson put a prototype Odyssey putter into his bag on Friday and used just 27 putts, four fewer than in the first round. He said he likes the flow; the way the putter releases and closes so he doesn't worry about blocking it. Look for the putter to stick around on Saturday, too.
"It's a takeoff on the No. 9, but it's got a low profile heel and a raised toe that gives it kind of a hook roll," Mickelson said. "I probably should have gone to it yesterday because it just rolls off the face like magic, and it has this great track. I was making a lot more 15- to 30-footers because it was holding such a tight roll.
"But I just didn't want to change from my blade because that's kind of been my identity, but I feel really good with this thing, and I'll probably go back and forth. This is something we've been working on for a while, and it just is fabulous."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- When Jason Dufner was a teenager growing up in Cleveland, the aspiring young golfer would come to watch the pros play Firestone Country Club each summer.
"So (I'm) familiar with the course a little bit watching other guys play," he acknowledged.
Back then the tournament was the NEC World Series of Golf, and like the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational the fabled course now hosts, all the game's best came to play. And this year, Dufner is among that number after picking up the first two wins of his PGA TOUR career.
Dufner's first two competitive rounds at Firestone have been extremely solid, too. He opened with a 67, then posted a 66 on Friday that included a birdie on the 18th hole and lifted him to sole possession of fourth, five strokes behind Jim Furyk.
Dufner may have had plenty of ticket requests to fulfill this week but he's enjoyed playing in front of family and friends.
"It's nice to come back and play in front of a lot of folks that haven't had a chance to see me play up close," Dufner said. "... I don't have a lot of experience on this course, but I'm from this area, and it's good to play in front of a home crowd."
Dufner's played his usually steady game over the first two rounds. He's second in fairways hit, missing just eight; tied for sixth in putting with 27 each day and tied for ninth in greens in regulation.
"Everything has been good," Dufner said. "I've been able to hit the fairways, which is nice for me. I can hit a lot of drivers which gives me shorter clubs into the holes, so I can be more aggressive. And I've putted pretty good I feel like. ... I think I've got four bogeys for the week and three of them are on par 5s, so I've got to work on that a little bit."
Dufner could take over the lead in the FedExCup from Tiger Woods if he finishes first or second on Sunday. He'd also be the first player making his Bridgestone Invitational debut -- aside from Tiger Woods in the inaugural event in 1999 -- to win in his first appearance.
The Auburn grad doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, though.
"We've got two more days left," Dufner said. "Depends on what the weather does, how the course responds to what they're doing out there. If it gets firmer and faster it's obviously tougher to shoot low scores. Feel like I'm in pretty good position heading into the weekend and a couple guys in front of me, so hopefully I can chase them down."